Dante Fowler Jr. needs to impress the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 and if that starts with Calais Campbell, then he’s doing pretty well.
Calais Campbell has been an instant star since coming to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 free agency. He has impressed with his leadership and his ability during OTAs and continues to say all the right things that a veteran, productive lineman is expected to say.
This week he said something that maybe nobody expected him to say.
In talking about Dante Fowler Jr., the third-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Campbell wasn’t shy in heaping praise. “He’s the best athlete on the field. That guy’s special,” Campbell said in talking about Fowler.
On a defense that features not just Campbell but also Malik Jackson and 2016 rookie sensations Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue – the latter out-worked Fowler at his own position and was more productive – that is high praise. Tack on young middle linebacker Myles Jack and the competition for most athletic on the field is strikingly stiff.
While Fowler still has a long way to go – even by his own admission, likening himself to being a “baby deer” – he may be able to rely on that athleticism to step up his game in 2017.
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I have personally been critical of Fowler thus far. He seems to be trying to build his hype more than he has demonstrated actual growth on the field. After a year with a torn ACL in 2015 and trying to simply come back in 2016, it’s understandable that he wants to talk about what he can do and how he is going to be a stud.
But we, Jags fans, want to see it before we believe it. Until Fowler puts on the pads and proves he can be a stud in game situations, there will always be a healthy amount of skepticism about him.
Yet if he can convince Campbell that he’s athletically gifted enough to get it done, then that’s one step forward. That step should start to get some buy-in from fans as we all eagerly look to Fowler to fulfill his potential.
The next step, per the above-linked article, is about getting the right technique down. Fowler will have all offseason to worry about that. Training camp will be a chance to revisit.