When the Jacksonville Jaguars handed their selection in for the 3rd pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, they were hoping they found a solution to their edge-rushing woes. Dante Fowler Jr. was heralded as the top defensive player in the draft and as a guy who could come in and provide a pass rush right away. Unfortunately, Fowler tore his ACL in his first practice with the team during rookie minicamp, and he won’t get a chance to make an impact until 2016.
So the Jaguars are pretty much exactly where they were last year – wondering where to find a consistent edge rush.
This isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Jaguars, as they’ve been looking for a pass rusher for the better part of a decade:
"Bobby McCray, the Jaguars’ seventh-round pick in 2004. He’s the only player since Brackens in 2001 to record double-digit sacks in a single season (McCray had 10 in 2006).Since then, the Jaguars’ pass rush has been the worst in the NFL. They’ve recorded an NFL-low 233 sacks from 2007-14."
As far as possible solutions on the roster, the prospects aren’t exactly encouraging. Chris Clemons was inconsistent last year coming from Seattle, and he’s another year older now. Andre Branch hasn’t really lived up to the hype as an early second round pick, and this is probably his last year on the team unless he has a breakout season.
In all, the Jaguars just don’t have anyone coming off the edge who puts fear into the opposing quarterback. In his recent ranking of 4-3 defensive ends during the 2014 season, Matt Miller didn’t even mention anyone from the Jaguars.
Besides Clemons and Branch, the Jaguars have a handful of unknowns at the ready. 2nd year player Chris Smith should get more snaps just based on the lack of production from Clemons and Branch last year, but Ryan Davis is the only guy worth actually getting excited about. Traditionally used as an interior rusher, Davis should see more time on the edge as an end in 2015 . He played in a part time role over the last 2 years, and he’s proven himself as a reliable pass rusher and run defender who deserves more playing time.
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