Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 players that could have a decreased role in 2021
Dawuane Smoot will be part of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ D-Line rotation.
The Jaguars’ defense had trouble pressuring opposing quarterbacks last season. Defensive end Josh Allen was hampered by a knee injury and then-rookie K’Lavon Chaisson struggled to adjust to the NFL. The team’s best pass rusher was Dawuane Smoot, who led the team with a career-high 5.5 sacks. After starting seven games and playing 665 defensive snaps last season, it was uncertain if the Jags would let the 2017 third-round pick walk in free agency.
Smoot ended up signing a two-year contract to return to Jacksonville. However, the team’s brass also reinforced the front seven this offseason. They signed Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward in free agency. Both will be part of the defensive line rotation and Allen should be fully healthy, so there may not be enough snaps for everyone. Also, it will be interesting to see how Smoot fits defensive coordinator Joe Cullen’s system.
The former Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach will switch between 3-4 and 4-3 alignments, so the Illinois product will have to sometimes rush the quarterback standing up. Before last season, Smoot had never played more than 38 percent of the Jaguars’ defensive snaps in a season. He will have to make the most of his limited pass-rush opportunities in 2021 and show he can be an effective role player. The team liked him enough that they gave him a new deal; he now needs to show they made the right decision.