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 take a look at a position that needed an upgrade this offseason – linebacker.
The Jaguars have had issues at the linebacker position, most of it revolving around pass coverage. Daryl Smith was solid during his time in Jacksonville, but his absence highlighted the lack of athleticism in the linebacking corp. Paul Posluszny is a tackling machine, but he is a liability in coverage and arguably shouldn’t be on the field on third downs. Russell Allen was serviceable, but certainly not a guy who was indispensable. Here’s what the group looked like in 2013:
As expected, Posluszny played essentially every defensive snap. While he brings a lot to the table in terms of veteran leadership and the ability to command the defense, he is a guy you worry about on obvious passing downs. Geno Hayes was brought in last offseason to inject some speed and athleticism into the position group, and he was about what we expected when he was healthy. Russell Allen played fairly well before he was shut down for the year and eventually his career due to a stroke on the field. With Allen gone, the Jaguars were presented with a big hole to fill this offseason.
Here’s how I see the group heading in 2014:
Posluszny and Hayes are essentially locks to start, but the position group as a whole looks like it will churn out a steady rotation. Dekoda Watson and LaRoy Reynolds are slotted to play the newly minted OTTO position as the designated pass rushing linebackers, but they also could play in traditional packages as outside linebackers. Telvin Smith needs to put on some weight, but he’s an ideal fit at one of the outside spots thanks to his speed and ability to cover. Lotulelei could come in and play all 3 linebacker positions if need be. Overall the group looks significantly faster and younger than last year.