In our continuing series, the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft. FOXSports.com takes a look at their roster post-free agency and delivers a plan of attack for the last day in April.
After winning just seven games in his first two seasons, Gus Bradley move the rebuilding process into the next phase. Bradley’s energy as a coach is evident. Players love playing for him and he was the life of the party during the practices at the Senior Bowl.
Despite drafting quarterback Blake Bortles third overall in last year’s draft, the offense hit some snags. The offensive line allowed a franchise-high 71 sacks and 2013 No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel allowed eight of them. Joeckel, who broke his ankle during his rookie campaign, finally has a full offseason to train and prepare. By adding offensive tackle Jermey Parnell in free agency, the Jaguars looked to cure those woes.
After scoring a league-low 15.6 points a game, the Jaguars added a dynamic tight end in Julius Thomas. Thomas — who has scored 12 touchdowns the past two seasons — offers Bortles a go-to weapon in the red zone along with fellow tight end Marcedes Lewis. With a throng of young pass receivers in Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, there are no more excuses left for this offense.
The Jaguars re-tooled the defense in free agency by adding safety Sergio Brown, defensive tackle Jared Odrick, outside linebacker Dan Skuta and re-signing Tyson Alualu. While the Jaguars have two solid defensive ends in Chris Clemons and Alualu, adding another rotational option could benefit them long term as Andre Branch enters the final year of his deal.
Positions of need: DE, OT, RB
Three options to consider
Dante Fowler, OLB: While Fowler is far from a finished product, he showed rare athleticism at the NFL Combine, running a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash at 261 pounds. Aside from the long speed, which really doesn’t apply to playing defensive end, Fowler is a lethal pass rusher, racking up 8.5 sacks during his junior season, and is stout enough to set the edge.
Shane Ray, DE: By adding Skuta in free agency, the need for a pass-rushing linebacker isn’t what it once was. Bradley, however, can never have enough impact defenders. Ray, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. Ray plays with great burst and leverage and would immediately upgrade the Jags’ D.
Kevin White, WR: The Jaguars spent two draft picks on the wide receiver position last season by adding Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. They also found a gem in Allen Hurns, too. But quarterback Blake Bortles could use a true No. 1 target on the outside and White would be just that. By allowing Cecil Shorts to sign with Houston, the Jaguars certainly have a need for a stretch-the-field threat.