Exiting the 2014 regular season with the most salary cap space of any team in the NFL, it’s not too surprising that the Jacksonville Jaguars had one of the most active offseasons in the league. General manager David Caldwell didn’t hold back in pursuing free agents who should come in and contribute right away, and the Jaguars should be a significantly better team in 2015 for it.
After free agency, the Jaguars went ahead and had what was considered by many one of the most successful 2015 draft classes in the NFL. The Jaguars filled needs early in the draft with guys like Dante Fowler Jr. and T.J. Yeldon, and they found terrific value in the later rounds with the likes of Rashad Greene and Michael Bennett.
The Jaguars still have some developing to do on the offensive side of the ball, with a majority of the onus of improving production on second year quarterback Blake Bortles. They should be better, but the Jaguars offensive output is still a big question mark.
The defensive side of the ball is a different story however. The Jaguars quietly put together a solid defensive performance in 2014, particularly after the Jaguars inserted some talented youngsters like Telvin Smith and Aaron Colvin into the lineup. The defense got even stronger in the offseason with the additions of Jared Odrick, Davon House, Dan Skuta, Sergio Brown, Dante Fowler Jr., James Sample, and Michael Bennett. All of those players could start or contribute early and often.
So how good can the Jaguars be on defense? Alessandro Miglio of Bleacher Report already has the Jaguars ranked as the 6th best defense in the NFL:
"The Jaguars had another nice offseason. One of these years, that’ll start to pay off.It began with Jared Odrick. The big defensive lineman was a nice import from down south after the Miami Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh.Free agency wasn’t terribly splashy on the defensive side outside Odrick, but cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown were solid additions to that secondary.The biggest upgrade to that defense might be in the form of rookie Dante Fowler Jr. out of Florida. The Jaguars needed to improve the pass rush, and Fowler was brought in to do just that as the LEO linebacker.Jacksonville is one of the most improved teams on paper this offseason."
Six is pretty high considering the Jaguars still gave up 25.8 points per game last year, good for 26th in the league. That’s a big jump all the way to six, but anything is possible. If young players like Johnathan Cyprien, Telvin Smith, and Demetrius McCray make that leap from solid starter to Pro Bowl caliber, this defense could be pretty scary.
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