No. 3 Not-so-secret Jaguars weapon that will surprise in 2023: Yasir Abdullah, OLB
The Jaguars have taken the necessary step to bolster most units since the end of the 2022 season but the pass rush remains a question mark. Just before the draft, they were reportedly interested in reuniting with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue but no deal materialized and he ended up joining the Chicago Bears. Most recently, they hosted defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for a visit but he left without a deal and signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
It's important to note that Jacksonville has a pair of bookend pass rushers in Josh Allen and Travon Walker. However, they don't have much depth behind them and if either one has to miss significant time, their ability to get after the quarterback in 2023 could be severely compromised. The Jags did bring back Dawuane Smoot on a one-year deal but he's still rehabbing an Achilles tear he sustained last year and will probably be back in the fold until October.
So why haven't the Jaguars aggressively tried to upgrade their pass rush? That's because they wanted to see if any of their young players could step up. It looks like Yasir Abdullah has answered the call. Dubbed a draft steal, the former Louisville Cardinal doesn't have the prototypical size of a pass rusher in the NFL. The fact that he was somewhat of a non-factor in training camp was maybe a sign that he would need time to adjust to the pros. However, he's made a positive impression in the preseason.
Against the Dallas Cowboys in the opener, Abdullah totaled three tackles and one sack. He was consistently around the ball and trying to make plays. Although he didn't have nearly the same impact against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, he was much better than fellow outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, who's tentatively No. 3 in the rotation behind Walker and Allen.
Although Abdullah still needs to refine his craft, another strong outing against the Miami Dolphins in the finally could guarantee that he passes Chaisson on the depth chart.