Calais Campbell, other players who could follow Ryan Nielsen to Jacksonville Jaguars

• The Jaguars have oficially hired Ryan Nielsen as their DC. These 3 Falcons pending free agents could join Nielsen in Jacksonville
Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Calais Campbell (93)
Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Calais Campbell (93) / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 3

The Jacksonville Jaguars have found their new defensive coordinator after a two-week search. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported early Monday that the Jags had hired Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator after interviewing with him last week. In the evening, the organization announced the hiring.

Nielsen was one of the first candidates Jacksonville had set their sights on. However, the Atlanta Falcons blocked the interview because he was still under contract and the meeting was for the same position. Eventually, the Falcons granted permission to the Jaguars and they wasted no time arranging a meeting and dinner with him.

While the Atlanta Falcons went 7-10 last year, the defense fared well in comparison to the rest of the team. Although they ranked 18th in points allowed, they were third in the league on third-down defense. Similarly, they were seventh in yards per play surrendered and eighth in pass defense.

In Jacksonville, Nielsen will have ample talent to work with, but if he wants to bring any of his former players, these three Falcons pending free agents could join the Jaguars in the offseason.

3. Jeff Okudah, cornerback

The Jaguars don't have an immediate need at cornerback with Darious Williams and Tyson Campell set to hold both starting spots in 2024. That said, they could use some depth at the position, with Tre Herndon slated to hit the open market. While Jacksonville has Gregory Junior and Montaric Brown in the fold, they could use a vested veteran at the position. That's where Jeff Okudah comes in.

Okudah, the third-overall pick in the 2020 draft, battled with injuries and inconsistency during his three-year stint with the Detroit Lions. But despite getting a second chance when Dan Campbell became the head coach in 2021, he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons last year. Ultimately, things worked out for the former Ohio State Buckeye.

Even though Okudah was yet to live up to expectations, he managed to stay healthy in Atlanta, which in turn helped him build some confidence and consistency. The former first-round pick has mostly lined up in the boundaries throughout his career, so he wouldn't be a replacement for Herndon, the team's top nickel in 2023. Instead, he could provide depth behind Campbell and Williams.