Jaguars’ D-Line pops up near the cellar in recent ranking

Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers Josh Allen #41 and K'Lavon Chaisson #45 (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)
Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers Josh Allen #41 and K'Lavon Chaisson #45 (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars have spent the offseason revamping their defensive front, but where did they land in Pro Football Focus’ most recent ranking?

You probably have heard that for defenses to stop opposing offenses, they must disrupt the quarterback. The more you pressure a signal-caller, the less comfortable he will be making throws and the higher the chances he will make mistakes. That’s why having a defensive front that can get to the quarterback often is key to success in the NFL, so how good is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive front?

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus recently ranked all 32 defensive line units ahead of the 2021 season and the Jaguars popped up at number 30, one spot above the Atlanta Falcons and one below the Seattle Seahawks. Linsey says EDGE defenders Josh Allen and sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson have the tools to develop into a dynamic duo. However, he believes it will take time before they take off. He rightfully points out that Allan has shown he can rush the quarterback, posting pass-rushing grades between 70.0 and 75.0 over the last two years.

Linsey also mentions that Chaisson finished the 2020 season strong, but notes that only logged a 9.2 percent pressure rate overall. So what are Linsey’s final words about the Jaguars’ defensive front?

"With work still left to do for those two and little to get excited about on the interior, this should be one of the lower-graded units in the league again next season."

The Jacksonville Jaguars added depth to the defensive line this offseason.

A knee injury limited Allen to eight games last season but he is now healthy and should regain his Pro-Bowl shape. Chaisson could have a breakout season as well. However, the Jaguars lack star power up front. Outside of Allen and Chaisson, Jacksonville doesn’t have any dominating pass rusher. They brought back Adam Gotsis and Dawuane Smoot this offseason. They also signed Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward this offseason but all of them are complementary pieces rather than feature EDGE defenders.

It’s true that the Jags have better depth than they did last season but their defensive line can’t get a higher ranking based on potential alone. Do you remember the defense in 2017? Jacksonville ranked second in points allowed, forced 33 turnovers, and logged 55 sacks. Their defensive line was full of talent. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue were the team’s top pass rushers. Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler also played a key role. For the Jaguars to have a top-5 defensive front, they would have to have a similar ensemble cast.

The Jaguars’ brass was aware they needed to upgrade the defensive front and you could argue they did a good job. Nevertheless, they still need to hoard more pieces, as they don’t simply have enough talent right now. Also, it’s not reasonable to expect Jacksonville to register 50 sacks in 2021. They are coming off a 1-15 season and are in the early stages of a rebuild. Their defensive front will certainly be better but that improvement will be proportional to their current talent. For the time being, ranking 30th seems about right.

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