Jaguars may want to consider steering clear of pass rushers in first round

Miami Hurricanes DL Gregory Rousseau #15 (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Hurricanes DL Gregory Rousseau #15 (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) /

While it’s a given the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerence with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s uncertain who they will choose with their second first-round pick, the 25th overall. They will have a wide array of options but they may want to consider staying away from pass rushers.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report recently wrote about the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in 2021’s draft and a trio of edge rushers showed up, all of them potential first-round picks. The players are Jayson Oweh from Penn State and Gregory Rousseau and Jaelen Phillips from Miami. The three of them showed promise at the collegiate level but all of them head into the NFL with question marks.

On one hand, Moton says that Oweh has control of his frame and has shown the ability to bend around the corner with balance. He also mentioned his speed and acceleration. On the other hand, Moton highlights the fact the New Jersey native didn’t register a sack in 2020 and adds that even though sacks aren’t the only way to measure a defensive end, his lack of production should raise some flags.

Moton goes on to talk about Phillips and how his concussion history could shorten his NFL career. He also says that even though his ‘relentless motor led to second-effort sacks and stops’, he needs to add functional strength to his 266-pound frame.

Then, there’s Rousseau who broke his ankle in 2018 but went on to have a dominating 2019 season, logging 54 total tackles, 19.5 for a loss, 15.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He opted out in 2020, so scouts only have his 2019 tape to work with. Moton points out that even though the Florida native has outstanding athleticism he needs to work on his technique when jumping off the line of scrimmage.

Should these question marks concern the Jacksonville Jaguars?

There’s no consensus top defensive end in the draft like last year, when Chase Young went second overall to the Washington Football Team. However, all the prospects Moton mentions are talented, they are just rough around the edges and will need plenty of work. The Jaguars would have to decide if one of them is worth developing.  Last year, they drafted defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson and although he was a non-factor early at first, he finished the season strong.

Also, Jacksonville fortified their defensive front in free agency and should have a healthy Josh Allen back in the lineup in 2021, so they could afford to pass up the chance to draft an edge defender if they find value in another position. On the other hand, if they think that Phillips, Oweh, or Rousseau can bolster their pass-rush, they should go ahead and pull the trigger at 25, fully aware of the pros and cons each one of them carries.

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