The Jacksonville Jaguars went into the 2015 offseason with the most cap space of any team by a notable margin, and general manager David Caldwell used all that money to address a host of needs in free agency. The Jaguars managed to find surefire starters at tight end (Julius Thomas), right tackle (Jermey Parnell), defensive line (Jared Odrick), and cornerback (Davon House). Some of their lower tier signings (Dan Skuta and Sergio Brown) should also have opportunities to win starting jobs.
Sergio Brown is one of the more interesting signings, as he could potentially take the free safety spot, but he’s probably more suited to be a special teams guy and depth. With that in mind, the Jaguars still need to find a true free safety to pair next to Johnathan Cyprien to patrol the back end. Cyprien didn’t breakout in his sophomore season to the extent many people hoped, but that had a lot to do with the play around him.
In their recent draft guides for all 32 teams, ESPN enlisted the help of Football Outsiders to determine the biggest needs for each squad. After what happened in free agency, it’s no surprise to see Tom Gower go with free safety for the Jaguars.
"Biggest need: Free safety — After failing to add a quality starter in free agency, Jacksonville still needs a free safety. Safeties are the hardest position to judge analytically, but it was easy to see Josh Evans was a massive liability in 2014. Our charting project had him with 20 missed tackles and few plays in coverage."
Evans was considered to be a terrific value when he was taken in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he just hasn’t developed into a consistent starter at safety. After playing a part-time role in his rookie season, Evans played a majority of the defensive snaps in 2014, and he finished as the 84th ranked safety out of 87 according to Pro Football Focus. It’s evident Evans doesn’t have the range needed by the free safety in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme. The Jaguars made a hard push for Devin McCourty, but he re-signed with the New England Patriots before free agency began.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, safety appears to be one of the weakest position groups in the entire draft. Alabama’s Landon Collins is the consensus top prospect, but he even he projects as more of a strong safety. The Jaguars are going to have to get creative if they hope to fix free safety this year.
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