Meet The Team: 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars' Defensive Line
Football season is inching closer and closer, and in preparation for it to finally arrive, each week I'll be introducing you to a different position group of the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week we'll start with what many believe is the team's biggest strength, the defensive line.
Lead by the mayor of Sacksonville himself, Calais Campbell, this unit is the heart and soul of the Jaguars' defense. Campbell and Ngakoue are the pass-rushing bookends that have combined for 54.5 sacks since they started playing together in 2017. Signed as a Free Agent, Campbell's production dipped, if only a bit, from 2017 to 2018 but with 10.5 sacks and 72 tackles he's still an elite big end. He's also a leader in the locker room, which is not to be undervalued.
Ngakoue on the other end of the line has been an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft. His 29.5 career sacks are the most of anyone drafted in his class, and when the other pass rushers in your class include the likes of Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner, that's no small feat. As a master of the strip sack, Ngakoue has registered 10 in his career along with two fumble recovers – one of which he took back to the endzone. Currently absent from mandatory mini-camp because of a contract situation, I firmly believe when he does return he's poised to have a career year in 2019.
Moving inside, the Jaguars will feature Abry Jones and Marcell Dareus to clog up the middle of the trenches. Dareus became a Jaguar after being traded to Jacksonville by the Buffalo Bills in October of 2017, and in his time wearing teal has racked up two sacks, 52 tackles (three for loss), and four quarterback hits. Before joining the team, the Jaguars were dead last in the NFL against the run eight weeks into the 2017 season, by the end of the season they improved to eighth against the run. In February he agreed to restructure his contract, reducing his 2019 salary and saving the team $5 million in cap space.
The Jaguars signed Abry Jones as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 draft. Despite only starting 32 games in his career, Jones has over 157 career tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 passes defended, and three forced fumbles. Weighing in at 6'4" 318 pounds, I expect Jones to continue to be a solid contributor to the team as a run stopper and occasional playmaker throughout the 2019 campaign.
Behind the starters, there's a lot to like about the depth in the rotation. First round 2018 pick, Taven Bryan only had 20 tackles and a sack last year, but I like him as a rotational guy — and potential starter — while he learns from Calais Campbell. Dawuane Smoot was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft by the Jaguars and has played 24 games in his NFL career. Similar to Bryan, I like Smoot as a depth guy that has positional versatility. Lerentee McCray is a core special teamer and has been better than expected pass rusher when forced into the lineup. His spot on the team should be safe. Lastly, let's not forget about the 7th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Josh Allen. Unlike the other depth guys, I expect Allen to come in and make an immediate impact. Having the ability to play defensive end and linebacker (If Todd Wash allows him to), Allen should see plenty of time on the field and should give opposing offenses fits.
The Jaguars are likely to keep a couple more defensive lineman. Eli Ankou, Dontavius Russell, and Datone Jones are names to watch.
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