The 2016 NFL Draft scouting combine is officially underway in Indianapolis and the festivities generally include coaches and general managers taking the podium to answer questions from the media.
While Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is notoriously vague in his talks and absurdly good at “coach speak,” general manager David Caldwell usually has some insightful commentary about the franchise. Caldwell recently talked about having a significant amount of cap space, but he also made some comments about the upcoming draft. He made it entirely clear during Thursday’s media session – the Jaguars are going to focus on fixing the defense.
This should not surprise anyone given the way the entire franchise has publicly discussed the team’s current situation.
It doesn’t take an in-depth analysis to realize the defense is what held back the Jaguars in 2015. The offense took a monumental step forward thanks to the rapid development of quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but overall the defense just has a total dearth of talent on all 3 levels.
Looking at Caldwell’s first 3 drafts, it’s clear building the offense was his first priority. After spending 5 draft picks on defense in the 2013 draft (most of which were 6th and 7th round picks), Caldwell only used 6 of the 17 picks over the last 2 year on defenders. Those selections include Dante Fowler Jr. (who has yet to play a snap) and Aaron Colvin (a 4th round pick who wasn’t able to play at the beginning of the year thanks to a torn ACL).
With the offense more or less in a good place as far as talent at the premier positions, Caldwell now has to focus on finding playmakers for the defense. Even with Fowler coming back, the GM knows he needs to stockpile talent. Expect the first two, maybe 3, selections to be defensive players in May.