The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2016 season ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense.
Ranking sixth in the NFL in yards allowed wasn’t good enough for the Jacksonville Jaguars to stand pat in the offseason. As noted by Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country, the Jags didn’t buy their own statistical hype. The Jags have already landed some big names in free agency and could potentially add even more depth to what already looks to be a loaded unit for 2017. Take a look at what the defensive roster looks like before the NFL Draft.
Projected 2017 Starters: Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue
Others currently on roster: Dante Fowler Jr, Chris Smith, Jonathan Woodard
This looks to be one of the better units on the Jaguars roster already. But the Jaguars tend to rotate their pass rushers a lot so don’t be surprised to see a couple new faces added through the draft as Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell both know how important a good pass rush is to a defense.
The question here is whether the Jaguars will continue to run their base defense out of a traditional 4-3, or get creative with the occasional 3-4 look. For now, it is assumed they stay with the 4-3 but don’t be surprised if defensive coordinator Todd Wash allows his athletic defensive ends Ngakoue and Fowler to play more freely and move around pre-snap. Campbell also gives the Jaguars some added flexibility along the defensive front.
Projected 2017 Starters: Malik Jackson, Abry Jones
Others currently on roster: Michael Bennett, Sheldon Day, Louis Nix
Malik Jackson may be the best free agency signing the Jags have had since Dave Caldwell took over as general manager, and he should continue to be a force in the middle of the defense. Abry Jones was given a contract extension this offseason after he was forced into a starting role last season and played well, but he has yet to do it for an extended period of time. He was good enough to let the Jags cut Roy Miller, who manned the same role for four seasons.
Once again, look for the Jags to add another big body up front in the draft or possibly once other teams begin trimming down their rosters this summer. Even entertaining Dontari Poe during free agency showed the Jags may be interested in adding another player here.
Projected 2017 Starters: Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith
Others currently on roster: Raphael Kirby, Lerentee McCray, Sean Porter, Hayes Pullard, Marcus Rush, Dan Skuta.
The Jaguars starting linebacking corps looks to be among the best in the league if they can figure out how to maximize the talents of 2016 second-round pick Myles Jack. Jack played sparingly as a rookie but expect him to make a huge leap in his second year as he gets on the field more, and is finally given the chance to showcase his abilities.
Jack could fit in well at middle linebacker, forcing longtime starter Posluszny to a different role. How the Jags organize the different talents and bring them onto the field will be critical, especially getting the right two-linebacker mix on the field as teams increasingly play more nickel packages in today’s pass-heavy NFL.
Projected 2017 Starters: Jalen Ramsey, A.J Bouye
Others currently on roster: Aaron Colvin, Doran Grant, Josh Johnson
The only tough decision to make here is who will be the top corner for the Jaguars. Both Jalen Ramsey and newcomer A.J. Bouye had stellar 2016 campaigns and showed they were capable of locking down the opposing teams top receiver. However, if an injury occurred to one of these two players it would be catastrophic for the defense as there isn’t much depth behind them, so expect the Jags to address this position heavily before the season begins.
Colvin is the Jags’ nickel corner and has the ability to play outside if needed. He hasn’t produced as a playmaker yet, but he has the talent to do so.
More from Black and Teal
- Jacksonville Jaguars RT Jawaan Taylor expected to have massive market in 2023 NFL Free Agency
- Robert Tonyan could be perfect complement to Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram in 2023 NFL Free Agency
- 5 Jacksonville Jaguars dream targets in 2023 NFL Free Agency
- 3 potential trade partners for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Shaquill Griffin
- Jaguars should explore trading for Michael Thomas amid Calvin Ridley suspension
Projected 2017 Starters: Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church
Others currently on roster: Akeem Davis, James Sample, Elijah Shumate, Peyton Thompson, Jarrod Wilson
It’d be a surprise to see the Jaguars make many moves at the safety position before the start of the season. Barry Church made headlines as one of the team’s biggest signings of the offseason and will likely start the season at strong safety. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if James Sample plays his way onto the field if he is able to stay healthy.
Overall, the Jaguars defense looks to be even better than last year’s and could potentially be one of the best in the league if a few things break their way and some of their young players continue to ascend. If young players such as Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Dante Fowler, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue continue to ascend, watch out, because this defense can be really good for a long time.