2. Dawuane Smoot
The 2020 season was the worst one the Jaguars have the last 20 years in terms of wins and losses. One big reason was the dearth of talent and depth across the roster, and that was self-inflicted. Looking to hoard draft picks, former general manager Dave Caldwell moved on from whatever playmakers Jacksonville had at the time, including defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, running back Leonard Fournette, and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
To fill the void left by Ngakoue's and Campbell's departure, the Jags drafted K'Lavon Chaisson (more on him later), who was expected to form a pass rush duo alongside Josh Allen. The issue was that Chaisson was a non-factor and Allen was limited to just eight games in 2020 due to a knee injury. That less-than-ideal situation pushed defensive end Dawuane Smoot into a feature role.
Smoot, a third-round selection in 2017, was mostly part of a rotation in his first three NFL seasons but managed to get six sacks as a part of a rotation in 2019. He followed it up with 5.5 the following year. A new regime arrived in 2021 and recognized the former Fighting Illini's value, which is why they gave him a new two-year deal. He didn't disappoint, registering a combined 11 sacks between 2021 and 2022.
Unfortunately, Smoot tore his Achilles near the end of the 2022 season and spent most of the offseason rehabbing. Probably that's why the Jags were hesitant to bring him back but relented at the end, giving him a one-year deal worth $6.25 million. While Smoot has given the team's pass rush a boost, he's not been particularly great.
Granted, Smoot may need a full year to fully recover from the torn Achilles but he's still left a bit to be desired. He's set to become a free agent in the offseason and could return on an affordable one-year, prove-it deal given that he's stock has taken a hit in 2023.
Conversely, the Jaguars could part ways with Smoot and either take a pass rusher early in the draft to round out their rotation, or go after one of the premier free agents in the open market.