In the early to mid-2000s, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a defensive powerhouse. The offensive side of the ball has historically been predicated on smash mouth power running, and the defensive side of the ball has been known to be just as physical. Jaguars fans have been lucky to witness some great defensive players throughout the franchise's history. We have already seen the greats on offense; now it's time to take a look at the greatest defensive players ever to grace the gridiron. First up, the defensive ends.
1. Tony Brackens: Brackens attended the University of Texas, receiving All-American honors. After a solid career in Austin, Brackens was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Jaguars and would go on to spend his entire career in Jacksonville. Brackens was the original strip-sack master, collecting 27 over his 8-year career. Upon entering the league, he became an immediate force, collecting seven sacks and five forced fumbles. Brackens received his lone Pro Bowl nod after the 1999 NFL season, as well as second-team All-Pro honors. To this day, Brackens still holds team records for sacks, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries. He is also the leading tackler from the defensive end position.
2. Calais Campbell: In his short three-year stint with the Jaguars, Calais Campbell was one of the most dominant players in franchise history. There is no doubt that he would top this list if he played out his contract. On a recent radio interview, Campbell hinted at the fact that he too thought that would be the case. He was drafted out of Miami in 2008 by the Arizona Cardinals. After nine seasons in Arizona, Dave Caldwell lured him to Duval, and Campbell will go down as one the most excellent free-agent signings of Caldwell's career. The Mayor of Sacksonville's monster first season with the team ended with 14.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown. Campbell was a three-time Pro Bowler while in Jacksonville, and was the leader of a surging defense that carried the team to an AFC Championship appearance in 2017. Even though his time in Duval was short, playing in only 48 games for the team, he ranks 4th in Jaguars' history with 31.5 sacks.
3. Yannick Ngakoue: Even amid the ugly, inevitable breakup between the Jaguars and Ngakoue, his tremendous ability to rush the passer can not be understated. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL draft, Ngakoue was a key piece to building the most dominant defense in franchise history, and potentially in the history of the NFL. In his first two seasons, Ngakoue totaled 20 sacks and ten forced fumbles. His ability to get around tackles, and still have the awareness to find the ball in the quarterback's hands left offensive coordinators reeling. He received his only Pro Bowl nod after the 2017 season, and was quickly climbing the franchise leaderboards. He currently stands second in career sacks (37.5) and second in forced fumbles (14). While he is an elite pass rusher, Ngakoue tends to struggle against the run at times. Regardless, it is a shame the Jaguars were not able to make amends with their young defensive end. His (possibly) imminent departure continues the trend of the front office not being unable to lock down their young stars.
The Jaguars have almost always been physical and a force to be reckoned with along the defensive line. Honorable mentions for this list include Joel Smeenge and Paul Spicer. Even though the team is poised to lose Ngakoue, the future for second-year end Josh Allen is bright. He has the potential to be an elite pass rusher, and is a force in the run game as well. Watching film from last year, Allen is an excellent mix between Von Miller and Khalil Mack. He has unworldly speed and strength off the edge and has elite pursuit skills as well. If he can hone a specific pass-rush move or two, he will live in the nightmares of opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
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