The Jaguars secondary was abysmal last year, partly due to the lack of pass rush, but even with what should be an improved pass rush in 2016, the Jaguars still need to upgrade their secondary. They have a decent talent base right now at the cornerback position. Davon House will remain a starter while Aaron Colvin will start as the nickel cornerback. Demetrius McCray and Nick Marshall should be quality backups moving forward. This leaves one hole to fill in the cornerback room, that is the starting corner who will start opposite Davon House.
Sign a Starting Cornerback
There are several quality options available to the Jaguars in free agency when it comes to adding a new starting cornerback.
Janoris Jenkins is an extremely talented corner who spent the first part of his career with the Rams. In four seasons in the league he has recorded 10 interceptions, effectively shutting down one side of the field for the Rams. His 10 interceptions might not wow, but what is sure to catch your eye is his 6 defensive touchdowns. The Jaguars lack playmakers on defense and this 27 year old ball hawk would certainly be a welcome addition to the Jaguars secondary, despite his dominative stature (he stands 5’10’’).
-PROS: Playmaker, Intense attitude, good athleticism
-CONS: Not ideal size for CB in Gus Bradley defensive scheme, wants close to $14 million per year
Sean Smith is another talented cornerback who is in his prime. Smith is 28, but will be 29 by the start of the 2016 season. Despite being just over a year older than Jenkins, Smith has played three more years in the NFL. Even with his extra snaps it doesn't appear that Smith shows any signs of slowing down. He stands 6’3’’ which is a perfect height for an ideal Gus Bradley cornerback. While Smith plays consistently he doesn't make a ton of big plays and has never intercepted more than 2 passes in a season.
-PROS: Lanky frame ideal for Gus Bradley defense, consistent play, knows how to win
-CONS: Lacks big playmaking ability, nearly 30 years old
Smith and Jenkins are clearly the top two options and either one would immediately provide stability to our cornerback group.
The Jaguars are also in need of a quality starting free safety. In prior years they have attempted to fix the free safety position in the draft and in free agency, but nothing has worked to this point. This free agent crop has a lot of talent at the free safety position and should provide the Jaguars the answer to their question at free safety.
Sign a Starting Free Safety
Eric Weddle has been one of the best free safeties in football for the last five years or so and would provide a massive upgrade to the Jaguars secondary. Weddle is older (he just turned 31), but he is still playing at a high level and could help the Jaguars for at least 2-3 more years. Weddle has 19 career interceptions and has destroyed the Jaguars over the years. Last season he was ranked as the second best coverage safety in the entire league by Pro Football Focus.
-PROS: High football IQ, playmaking ability, coverage specialist
-CONS: Age, not a great tackler (who cares at this point)
Tashaun Gipson is coming off his worst year as a pro, but save Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge, what player in Cleveland didn't struggle last year? Gipson still has yet to enter his prime, as he is only 25 and has a ton of football in front of him. Despite his struggles in 2015 Gipson has shown great playmaking ability, recording 5 interceptions in 2013 and 6 interceptions in 2014, even though he missed significant time due to injury.
-PROS: Playmaking ability, youth, athleticism
-CONS: Coming off bad season, Injury prone over last two seasons
Tashaun Gipson or Eric Weddle would provide a massive upgrade to the Jaguars safety group and would allow John Cyprien to play in the box and focus on stuffing the run. There are several other free safeties in free agency who would improve the Jaguars pass coverage, including Reggie Nelson and Byron Maxwell.
If the Jaguars are able to sign one of these cornerbacks and one of these safeties next week then their secondary will be in good shape heading into the draft.
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