Most of the players the Jacksonville Jaguars signed in free agency are set to play important roles in the 2022 season. However, defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as some of the other signings the Jags made. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see him pop up on a list of “secret superstars“.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently talked about one secret weapon each NFL team has and Fatukasi was the pick for Jacksonville. Monson points out that run-stuffing specialists tend to fly under the radar nowadays but he believes that the Jaguars have one of the best ones in Fatukasi, even if he’s coming off a “below-average year”.
"Fatukasi has been one of the best-run stuffers in the league since he came into the NFL, with back-to-back PFF run defense grades of at least 86.0 before last season’s drop-off. If he can bounce back to that previous level in Jacksonville, he will be an important and unheralded cog of a defense looking o take a big step forward in 2022."
A sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Fatukasi signed a three-year deal worth $30 million with the Jags earlier this year. He’s played 45 games with 13 starts and has logged 115 total tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and one forced fumble over the last four years.
Folorunso Fatukasi will be an important part of the Jaguars defense
This isn’t the first time someone points out that Fatukasi might not get the attention he deserves. Earlier this year, Cynthia Frelund of NFL Media named the former UConn Huski the Jags’ most underappreciated player heading into the regular season and it’s easy to see why.
Fatukasi’s main task in the Jaguars’ 3-4 defense won’t be to generate sacks or pressure but rather to take on blocks so others can make plays. Similarly, he’s expected to clog up running lanes, so his teammates can take the ballcarrier down.
Having said that, the Jaguars’ brass knows the value of Fatukasi. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have paid a premium for his services in free agency. If he can successfully cause disruption at the line of scrimmage, players such as linebacker Foyesade Oluokun or edge rusher Josh Allen will be able to make impact plays.
The Jaguars made upgrades to their linebacker corps and their cornerback room in the offseason but they also added Fatukasi because they know the importance of controlling the line of scrimmage. If he has the impact Jacksonville expects in 2022, their defense could be pretty stout against the run, which will come in handy in a division filled with some of the best running backs in the NFL.