It’s tough to succeed in the NFL when your secondary can’t stop the modern pass happy offenses. Some teams focus on pressuring the quarterback and hope that frees the secondary to make plays. Other teams focus on the secondary and hope the front seven have enough time to do their job. The logic is simple in both cases: force the offense to do what you want.
Whether it’s a focus on pressure or a focus on coverage, the Jaguars were being left behind. Prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars had just four cornerbacks and four safeties on the roster. Of these players they had just two returning starters from 2012 in CB Mike Harris and FS Dwight Lowery. The strong safety position was dangerously thin with the inept Chris Prosinski the only player slotted on the depth chart. Kevin Rutland, Alan Ball, and Antwan Molden manned the other cornerback spot, all of whom are really depth players.
Then came the draft. Safeties Jonathan Cyprien and Josh Evans instantly add competition and competence to the strong safety and free safety positions. Dwayne Gratz provides a schematic fit to Gus Bradley’s defense and locks down the corner spot opposite Harris. The two other cornerbacks selected, Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray, bring in competition with Rutlant, Ball, and Molden and could even find their way onto the field for some downs.
The Jaguars’ new regime needed their own players in the secondary and they got them. Whether it was letting players walk in free agency or outright cutting them, they opened the door to fill the secondary with players that can do what they want in the new schemes. While the draft didn’t yield any pass rushers, the team took an obvious step forward by providing much better secondary play. If the Jags get even another second to rush the passer because of better coverage, this will be much better.
I like what the Jaguars did in the draft, largely because they made the backend of their defense into a strength after it became a major weakness.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims