Starting Job Battles: Defense
With less than two weeks until players report for training camp, it’s time to look at which positions on the depth chart are up for grabs. David Caldwell decided to perform a pretty extensive overhaul of the roster when he took over this offseason which means a lot of new faces are on the team.
A handful of players have starting jobs locked down, but there are several spots where rookies are competing with veteran free agent acquisitions for time on the field. Let’s take a look at which positions are wide open going into training camp.
May 13, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz (27) stretches before the start of organized team activities at The Florida Blue Health
Dwayne Gratz has one of the starting cornerback spots locked down.
After parting ways with Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis – and thankfully Aaron Ross – the Jaguars were in the market for two new starting cornerbacks after the 2012 season. After spending three draft picks on cornerbacks, Caldwell went ahead and acquired one of Gus Bradley’s former players in Marcus Trufant and Alan Ball from the Texans. Third round pick Dwayne Gratz looks to have one of the starting jobs locked down, while the spot on the opposite side of the field looks to be between the two veteran acquisitions. Mike Harris, one of the few bright spots from last years’ rookie class, will likely get most of the snaps at nickelback.
Two of the starting linebacker positions are already set with Paul Posluszny in the middle and Russell Allen on the outside. Newly acquired veteran Geno Hayes was expected to start but some buzz has started to grow around second year player Julian Stanford. Stanford was my favorite undrafted rookie last year as he flashed tons of athleticism, but he did look lost and out of place at times during games. If Hayes and Stanford are close in training camp, expect Stanford to get the nod due to his upside.
With Tyson Alualu moving to defensive end, the Jaguars need to establish a completely new rotation at defensive tackle. The Jaguars signed veteran free agent Roy Miller from Tampa Bay and claimed a similar player in Kyle Love from the Patriots. Both are space-eating tackles who hold the point and allow the second level defenders to make plays. Miller was solid with the Bucs as was Love when he played for the Patriots. Ex-Titan Sen’Derrick Marks will probably start alongside one of these two players to complement their one-technique style.
With Caldwell and the new regime trending towards youth on the roster, expect rookies and younger players to get the benefit of the doubt over veterans in most situations if the two players are close.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89