Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell had the best year of his career in his first team with the team.
It’s hard not to get excited about the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive front with the 6-foot-8 pass rusher breathing down the necks of opposing quarterbacks. While Calais Campbell wasn’t the only star on the Jaguars defense, he stood out, not only in size but in his domination from the “big end” position. As the catalyst of this unit, the Jaguars finished second overall in defense in the NFL in 2017.
Adam Schein of NFL.com got it right when he listed Campbell as one of the NFL’s most indispensable players. In his story which lists the top nine defensive stars that teams cannot do without, he comes in seventh, overall.
"“When you look up “indispensable” in the dictionary, Campbell is smiling back at you,” Schein wrote. “Or he should be. The guy does it all for this stifling defense. He’s a tackle. He’s an end. He sacks the quarterback (14.5 sacks in 2017). He stops the run (67 total tackles).”"
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Campbell and the defense will look to finish what they started last season, falling short in the AFC Championship Game. There is plenty of speed and depth on the defensive line and secondary. Schein, who isn’t a fan of Jacksonville signal-caller Blake Bortles, believes Campbel and the defense will have to carry the team if it hopes to reach Atlanta in February.
"“Campbell is the leader of this young and starry Jags defense. And with Blake Bortles at quarterback, it’s Campbell and his defensive cohorts who put this team in the Super Bowl mix,” he added."
From the moment he stepped onto the practice field last season, Campbell became a leader of this franchise. The elder statesman of a defense with young stars like Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith, his demeanor in the locker room and on the field set the tone for how well the team played defense in 2017.
Schein noted there are other players on this roster who deserve a mention in their value to the team, but when it came time to make the list, Campbell stood out as the main reason for the defensive resurgence.
"“I voted Jalen Ramsey first-team All-Pro, but Campbell gets the nod for the reasons I named,” said Schein. “And Jacksonville’s other starting CB, A.J. Bouye, is pretty darn stout himself.”"