With the 2014 NFL Draft in our rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead and see what the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster might look like come week 1 of the regular season. With 9 draft picks and several free-agent acquisitions this offseason, the active roster in 2014 will likely look very different from what we saw in 2013.
Today we turn our attention to one of the most conflicting position groups on the roster – defensive end and LEO.
After Gus Bradley was named the new head coach of the Jaguars, a lot of talk focused on the intriguing LEO position on defense. A hybrid defensive end/linebacker, the LEO had one purpose – rush the quarterback. The importance of the LEO led many to believe the Jaguars might take Dion Jordan in the 2013 NFL Draft, but instead they opted for a left tackle. Very little attention was paid to the LEO position in 2013, and it showed in lack of production. Here’s what the group looked like in 2013:
Jason Babin was the most natural fit at LEO on the roster, and he actually produced fairly well after a shaky start. Early on he had problems with dumb penalties, but he started providing consistent pressure when he settled down. Tyson Alualu was almost non-existent after moving from tackle to end, but he wasn’t really expected to provide much of a pass rush. Andre Branch was significantly more productive than he was in his rookie year, but he was a non-factor in too many plays. Mincey was never really a good fit in Bradley’s scheme, so Ryan Davis got some play time after Mincey’s release.
Clearly the Jaguars needed to address the position group this offseason, and they did just that. Here’s how I see the group in 2014:
Red Bryant was brought in to rotate in/out with Tyson Alualu, and his familiarity with Bradley’s defense should make his transition pretty easy. Chris Clemons had outstanding production in Seattle before getting injured and he should provide solid production despite his age. Babin and Branch are going to have to fight for snaps while simultaneously holding off rookie Chris Smith. The Jaguars should be better in the pass rush department in 2014, but they’ll likely be looking to inject the group with some youth next offseason.