Will the Jacksonville Jaguars solve their issues in the interior of the defensive line through the NFL Draft in April?
That should make many of the fans here in North Florida happy as the hybrid defensive star can fill multiple needs on a defense that has holes in many areas the size of Swiss cheese. But he is only one man and well, you cannot fix the issues this team has with one player in one position.
Whether it is linebacker or safety, Simmons would be a welcomed addition to this organization.
Then there are those simulations that see Simmons as one of the top players in this draft pool, which means the Jaguars, sitting at the ninth spot, would have to move up in the order to grab their desired star. I don’t see that happening, especially given that there are plenty of players in this draft who could help Jacksonville immediately on both sides of the football.
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The Jaguars most pressing need is on the defensive line, which could be the spot where the could reap the most rewards in rounds 1 and 2 because of a deep wide receiver pool and teams scrambling to grab quarterbacks in the top half of the first round.
Jacksonville’s pass rush wasn’t the issue last season as the team recorded 47 sacks, good enough for seventh in the NFL. It was the run defense that was atrochious and needs to be fixed. It is expected the team will release defensive tackle Marcell Dareus ($22.5 million cap hit). Making the move would result in $2.5 million in dead money.
There are plenty of options for the Jaguars to look to in the draft to help solve their iterior line issues, starting with Derrick Brown out of Auburn and Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina. Both SEC stars could be on the board when the front office hears commisioner Roger Goodell say, “Jacksonville is now on the clock.”
Per Dan Schmelzer from our friends at NFL Mocks, Brown is an elite talent who provides what this team needs, beef in the middle of the line and can help stop the run.
"“Brown is a big and powerful defensive tackle who can dominate with power on the inside. However, do not let his size fool you,” Schmelzer writes. “Brown is an extremely quick and athletic one-gap penetrator who consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage.”"
The Jaguars will be left with Abry Jones and Taven Bryan in the middle with Calais Campbell moving in and out of the interior of the line. If Bryan is the 2020 opening game starter, the Jaguars are in trouble.
"“Brown uses a quick first step to gain an immediate advantage over the opposing offensive lineman,” Schmelzer adds. “He consistently puts the opposing offensive lineman in uncomfortable situations, gaining ground quickly with a good upfield burst.”"
Jacksonville needs a player in the mold of John Henderson or Marcus Stroud, two dominant defensive linemen who owned opposing offensive lines in the early 2000’s. Getting one or more interior linemen in this draft is paramount for the rebuilding of Todd Wash’s defense that was once as good as any in the NFL.
Making the case for Kinlaw is just as easy because of his size, footwork, and ability to move offensive linemen out of the way. Brown was a more dominant player in college, but that does not mean the former Gamecocks’ star won’t excel at the next level.
As written by thedraftnetwork.com, his body of work is impressive.
"“Javon Kinlaw is a Day 1 target for any team looking to add a starter on the defensive line, and will be a high priority add for teams looking to increase their disruption up front. A hugely powerful athlete with a wicked first step, Kinlaw demolishes blocking schemes and pocket integrity with regularly.”"
The Jaguars need that kind of movement on a regular basis if it is going to move from the lower depths of the NFL in run defense.
"His profile continues, “Kinlaw can 1-gap or 2-gap with equal success at the NFL level given his elite toolkit, and his potential as a pass-rusher is sky-high. Inconsistencies regarding Kinlaw’s leverage and pass rush moves limit his ceiling as a one-on-one winner as an interior pass rusher, but by moving him around the line and sticking him in gaps, you’ll geta quality pass rush ability in Year 1.”"
The Jaguars have plenty of decisions to make with their draft picks this April. Finding help on the defensive side of the ball is important to the growth of this football team. Deciding which position to attack first is no easy task. And deciding which player will hear their name called first is the first step toward making this defense a force again for this franchise.