After initially agreeing to terms with Tyson Alualu, the Jaguars could not lock up the veteran defensive lineman after he had more time to think about his decision due to contracting COVID. He'll continue playing ball in Pittsburgh this fall.
But the Jaguars did improve their defensive interior, especially when it comes to stopping the run, with Malcom Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris. Impressive rookie performances by interior defensive linemen DaVon Hamilton and Doug Costin in 2020 also give reason for excitement. And the return of Adam Gotsis will help in the run defense department as well. But when you look at the Jaguars' defensive interior, it still feels like there's a missing piece, especially when you consider head coach Urban Meyer expects to have a top-eight defensive line year in and year out.
I'm not sure the missing piece was Tyson Alualu. He's an excellent rotational defensive lineman, but he's more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher. The Jaguars have plenty of run stuffers up front now. What they could use is an interior penetrator that can also hold up on base downs.
The Raiders waived Maurice Hurst on Thursday, and he could fit the bill. The soon-to-be 26-year-old defensive lineman excels as an interior penetrator, and Urban Meyer has familiarity with him dating back to his college days when Hurst played at Michigan. Meyer went head to head with Hurst and the Wolverines from 2015-2017.
Urban was eager for Hurst to turn pro following the 2018 season.
"73 (Hurst) is the real deal. He's gotten better and better and better. It's time for him to go to the NFL and get paid," Meyer said. "That's how much respect I have him as a player, though."
Perhaps the Jaguars' new head coach would like to pay Hurst for his services now. He'd make a ton of sense for the Jaguars and would help Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson finish off the edge. Too often, there has been little to no interior pressure to get quarterbacks off their spot, which has made it difficult for edge rushers to get home.
Hurst is also more than capable of getting to the quarterback himself. He's produced 7.5 sacks and 49 pressures over the last two seasons despite having a more limited role in 2020.
He can wreak havoc up the middle.
He can rush off the edge.
This is the defensive lineman you've been looking for. Perhaps the Jaguars will wait to address the defensive line during the upcoming NFL Draft. But they shouldn't. This is the type of situation that happens from time to time — a team releases a quality young player due to cap restraints and roster construction that good organizations around the league capitalize on.
The Jaguars are currently first in waiver order and thus have first dibs on Hurst. They should move swiftly to add this talented defensive penetrator to their rotation.
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