Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In Pursuit of Pass Rushers; Which Prospects Can Help Jags Put Heat on Enemy QBs?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In Pursuit of Pass Rushers; Which Prospects Can Help Jags Put Heat on Enemy QBs?

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

No sooner had the Jaguars selected Dante Fowler third overall last year did general manager Dave Caldwell say a secondary reason for the pick was the anticipated shallow pool of pass rushers in the 2016 draft.

Were they right?

"There are a few we like - probably more than we anticipated," Caldwell said last week. "Some guys have emerged."

But ...

"This edge-rushing group is not nearly as good as the [defensive] tackle group," ESPN analyst Todd McShay said on a conference call Tuesday. "You get down to [the 15th] tackle and you're talking about players that belong in the first three rounds. Edge rusher is a different deal."

Caldwell wasn't giving specifics. But among the visitors to Jacksonville earlier this month were defensive linemen Joey Bosa (end, Ohio State), DeForest Buckner (end/tackle, Oregon), Chris Jones (tackle, Mississippi State) and Kenny Clark (tackle, UCLA). The Jaguars have also been connected to Clemson end Shaq Lawson and Louisiana Tech tackle Vernon Butler.

The Jaguars should prioritize pass rusher for three reasons: Fowler's knee injury (expect a rookie transition period), coming up empty on Olivier Vernon in free agency (and not securing Robert Ayers two days later) and little confidence in the on-the-roster backups (Ryan Davis is a valuable multipurpose lineman instead of a pure pass rusher).

Plus, most of all, the Jaguars' draft history has been thin in even selecting pass rushers.

In the Caldwell administration, they've used only two of 25 picks (eight percent) on pass rushers - Fowler last year and Chris Smith (fifth round) in 2014.

As an organization, the Jaguars have used 10 of 63 picks (15.9 percent) on pass rushers since 2006. Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves were first- and second-round busts in 2008, and Andre Branch was a second-round flop in 2012. …

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