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Watson thrived in hybrid role with Bucs

3/12/2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dekoda Watson, who according to a Pro Football Talk report agreed to terms with the Jaguras on Wednesday, instantly upgrades the Jaguars’ special teams and could end up being a valuable addition on defense as well.

Watson excelled on special teams during his four seasons with Tampa Bay but he started to find his way on defense in 2013 after he was moved into a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end role. That’s a key part of the Jaguars’ defense.

Watson recorded a career-high 42 tackles in 15 games in 2013. He also had 2.0 sacks, one interception, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick. He started the season at strongside linebacker before defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan moved him to the hybrid role behind Adrian Clayborn.

ESPN Tampa Bay reporter Pat Yasinskas wrote in November that Watson was thriving in the new role, which should be encouraging for Jaguars fans because the team has just 51 sacks the past two seasons, including a league-worst 20 in 2012, and is desperate for pass-rush help.

The Jaguars have just two leos – their term for the position -- on the roster: third-year player Andre Branch and Gerald Rivers, an undrafted rookie the team claimed in December. Jason Babin, the team’s sack leader in 2013 (7.5), voided the final two years of his contract and is a free agent, though there is a solid chance he’ll return.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Watson is able to overcome his less-than-ideal size for the position with his speed. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in 2010.

"I think what he gives is he gives really good speed off the edge," then-Bucs coach Greg Schiano told Yasinskas in November. "That’s what we need to make sure he brings. When he gets out there, he needs to bring it.”