The Jacksonville Jaguars have some holes to fill in the 2013 NFL draft, not the least of which is to add a pass rusher along the defensive line. This team has tried and tried to add an edge rusher, but they haven’t had very much luck.
This season with new head coach Gus Bradley in place, it’s the same story. Bradley brings a defensive system that was very successful when he was the defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks, but it needs certain pieces in place, and one of those pieces is a pass rusher.
A specialty position of this type of defense is LEO end or wide 9-technique end. This is in essence a pass rush specialist who lines up well outside the outside shoulder of the tight end. It gives the end a good angle to the quarterback and theoretically a matchup against a smaller and less physical blocker.
Last season, the Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin to fill this role in the first round and he did a nice job. Although, as I reviewed several of his games, he showed that many of his best pressures didn’t come from the wide 9 end position. Still, that’s the intention of the position and all variations off of it.
What this means for the Jaguars is that if Bradley is going to need that type of player to run his defense, that player seemingly doesn’t exist on the roster as of now.
Most mock drafts have the Jaguars drafting their rush end in the first round, but quarterback is a huge need for this team, and I think they can get greater value by drafting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the first round and then looking for their wide 9 in the second. The player they should target is Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier.
Lemonier has nice size at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, and looks to have the frame to add a few more quality pounds. He’s got an explosive first step, as evidenced by his 4.6 40 time at the combine, and he’s a high-motor type of player who never gives up on a play.
He’s not a great run defender which, with his size, is the main reason he’ll likely slide to the second round, but there are several teams considering Lemonier there to bolster their pass rush, so with the Jaguars sitting pretty at 33, they could get themselves a real playmaker without having to spend a first round pick on them.