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2013 position review: Defensive tackle

Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the defensive tackles. We covered defensive ends on Monday.

Defensive tackles

Breakdown of starts: Sen'Derrick Marks (16), Roy Miller (14), Jordan Miller (1), Brandon Deaderick (1).

Recap: Marks was clearly the Jaguars’ best defensive lineman and their second-best defensive player behind middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. He joined the Jaguars in March and set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee.

The Jaguars rewarded him with a four-year contract extension in December that reportedly could be worth up to $22 million, making him one of the defense’s building blocks along with cornerback Dwayne Gratz and safety Johnathan Cyprien.

Outside of Marks, though, the tackles were disappointing. Roy Miller had 24 tackles and wasn’t the run-stuffing force he was in Tampa Bay, mainly because he played with a torn labrum in his shoulder for nearly the entire season. The staff was pleased with what he was able to do but his injury limited his effectiveness at times.

The group did play better in the second half of the season. The Jaguars gave up 102 yards per game on the ground in the final eight games after giving up 162 yards per game in the first eight games. The tackles did a better job of gap discipline and occupying and then shedding blockers.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Marks, Roy Miller, Jordan Miller, Abry Jones, Drake Nevis

The skinny: Marks is a foundation piece of the defense and the staff is hoping a healthy Roy Miller will be the same kind of player he was in Tampa Bay. Other than those two, though, the Jaguars don’t have much right now.

Jones and Jordan Miller showed some promise but both could have trouble making the roster next season if the Jaguars are able to significantly upgrade the depth behind the two starters.

The Jaguars will likely address this spot in free agency and almost certainly will draft at least one defensive tackle among their 10 picks.