Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Davis

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
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 NFL Nation's Michael DiRocco examines the three biggest issues facing the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into training camp.

Offensive line: Only one of the five spots is settled heading into camp: Zane Beadles, whom the team signed in March, is the starting left guard. Almost every other spot is up for grabs. I use "almost" because Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, will start at left tackle, and the team drafted him to be the line's cornerstone. He spent the first four games last season at right tackle and played a quarter at left tackle before a season-ending injury. While the Jags believe he's going to be an elite player, he still has to prove it. Mike Brewster is the leader at center, but he has never snapped in his three-year career. Right guard will be a battle between Jacques McClendon and rookie Brandon Linder. Austin Pasztor started 12 games at right tackle last season but will be pushed by Cameron Bradfield, who started the final 11 games at left tackle after Joeckel's injury. Regardless of who wins the position battles, the line has to be better than it was last season. The Jaguars averaged a franchise-worst 78.8 yards per game rushing last season, and a big reason was the play of the interior of the offensive line.

Wide receivers: The Jaguars know what they have in fourth-year player Cecil Shorts (123 career catches). They believe they know what they've got in second-year player Ace Sanders, provided he continues to develop following his 51-catch rookie season. But who are Nos. 3-6? It would seem second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson would naturally be the next two, but both missed most organized team activities and all of minicamp with injuries. They're supposed to be fully cleared for camp, but they missed valuable time working with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a technician of the finer points of routes, footwork and hand position. Rookie receivers are a crap shoot in the NFL, and there's no guarantee if both are healthy that they'll be able to contribute as much as Sanders did. Kerry Taylor and Mike Brown combined to catch 54 passes last season. Taylor is a bit bigger (6-foot, 200 pounds) than Brown (5-10, 200 pounds), but both can play in the slot or outside. Taylor might have a slight advantage because he was healthy throughout the offseason, while Brown was one of seven receivers who missed significant time because of an injury. A group of undrafted players, led by former Miami standout Allen Hurns, also will compete for the final two spots on the roster. It's important that this group stays healthy, too, because the injuries really affected the offense during minicamp. It was hard for any of the quarterbacks to move the ball consistently.

Pass rush: The Jaguars have had one of the worst pass rushes over the past five season and finished last in the NFL in sacks in 2013 and 2012. Buffalo led the NFL with 57 sacks last season. The Jaguars have 51 in the past two seasons combined, including 20 in 2012. The team took steps to remedy that by signing defensive end Chris Clemons (58 career sacks) and linebacker Dekoda Watson, a young player whom the Jaguars plan on using in their new otto position and rushing the passer on third downs. However, he sat out OTAs and minicamp with a groin injury and former undrafted rookie LaRoy Reynolds got the reps there. Third-year defensive end Andre Branch came on late last season (five of his six sacks in the last seven games) and had a great offseason, and the coaching staff is counting on him rotating with Clemons. The Jaguars felt good enough about Branch and young players Ryan Davis and Gerald Rivers that they released Jason Babin (62.5 career sacks) on the last day of the minicamp. However, Davis and Rivers have played in a combined eight games and have a combined eight tackles and one sack, so that's making a leap of faith that they'll be able to produce in a reserve role.
Have questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

@ESPNdirocco: If Aaron Colvin's torn ACL wasn't landing him on the PUP list to begin the season then I think Jeremy Harris wouldn't make the roster. But with Colvin unavailable, it opens a spot on the roster and Jeremy Harris and Mike Harris will battle for it. Mike Harris is a Gene Smith pick and really doesn't fit the bigger physical profile that coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks. Jeremy Harris missed his rookie season with a back injury but got a lot of work during organized team activities and minicamp along with fellow 2013 seventh-round pick Demetrius McCray. I think he makes it over Mike Harris.

@ESPNdirocco: It could happen before the season starts, but I think a more reasonable time frame would be sometime in the first half of the season. There have been preliminary discussions, and the Jaguars do want to have Cecil Shorts around long term, but how quickly the deal gets done depends on what Shorts believes he's worth. I agree with the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran that a general starting point would be the three-year, $13 million ($8.5 million guaranteed) deal Seattle gave Doug Baldwin, which is a little more than $4 million per year. Things might get delayed if Shorts wants No. 1 receiver money. He is the Jaguars' top receiver, but he's not a No. 1 receiver by NFL standards.

@ESPNdirocco: I think we can eliminate Red Bryant, Roy Miller, Tyson Alualu, Abry Jones, Chris Smith and Ryan Davis. Bryant being on that list might be a surprise to some, but remember, the end spot he plays doesn't produce a lot of sacks. Besides, Bryant has just 3.5 sacks in his six-year career. Chris Clemons and Andre Branch are a definite, and I think Sen'Derrick Marks hits that mark, too. He had four last season despite playing way too many snaps. The addition of Ziggy Hood will cut Marks' reps down and he will theoretically be fresher and even more productive. Hood is intriguing because the Jags signed him to play inside, which is where he played at Missouri. The Steelers had him playing end in his first five seasons.

@ESPNdirocco: They still live in the Jacksonville area.

@ESPNdirocco: I'll give you one definite thing to be excited about and one potential thing that could really energize Jaguars fans. The defensive line is much better, especially when it comes to rushing the passer. The Jaguars finished last in the NFL in sacks in each of the past two seasons, but the addition of Clemons and Dekoda Watson (who will play the new OTTO position) and the continued development of Andre Branch should result in more pressure on the quarterback. Adding Bryant and Hood will help in run defense, too. As for the potential excitement, how about Denard Robinson? He dropped just one pass in nine OTAs and a three-day minicamp. If he is indeed able to be used in the passing game, the Jaguars will have a dynamic edge playmaker.

@ESPNdirocco: Because he has earned it. He's a good special teams player and he was solid enough as a safety to warrant making the team for the past three seasons. That being said, I think his spot is in jeopardy this year. The Jaguars brought in several undrafted safeties, including Craig Loston and Jerome Junior, and signed Sherrod Martin, who started 36 games for Carolina from 2009-12. Chris Prosinski needs to have a very good camp to make the team..

Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

@toddarcher: Let's take a back-of-the-roster view on this because that's what I think you're talking about. On offense, I like what I've seen from receivers Jamar Newsome, Dezmon Briscoe and LaRon Byrd. They all have showed skill that could land them on a 53-man roster, but perhaps not this roster. I think the battle between Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams could be a good one at No. 3 tailback. Both of those guys have had moments. Guard Uche Nwaneri is interesting after not seeing him in the offseason. He is strong. On defense, I'm surprised how Rolando McClain has transitioned in. I'm not sure if he is a complete fit with his speed, but he is on my 53-man roster. He's shown some pretty good instincts. Linebacker Keith Smith seems to be around the ball a lot. Linebacker Joe Windsor has some pass-rush pop. Defensive end Dartwan Bush is showing up. I like what corner Terrance Mitchell has done, but I think he grabs too much. Among the guys you know more about, I don't think there has been a "bad" surprise, as in a guy who isn't playing well. At this point there are guys I just want to see more from: J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb, Sterling Moore, Terrell McClain (injured ankle) and Ronald Leary (injured hamstring).
@toddarcher: I'm not sure I've seen a John Lynch-type who is just nailing people, but I will agree they are mostly competing better. That's a good thing. Morris Claiborne is competing better, but he's given up plays, too. Same with Webb and Moore. I think you're seeing them use different techniques that allow them to be more disruptive outside than last year. It could be a Seattle influence. There could be a lot of penalties called on these guys with how "handsy" they are, but that's OK. There is a balance you have to learn. It's better to be this way rather than passive. And when it comes to games, you could see a situation in which the officials just get tired of throwing flags. I saw something like that when I covered the Dolphins with Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. They were so physical with their press coverage that officials let them get away with a lot.
@toddarcher: I doubt this is even on the radar. Jordan has a lot of money due his way and he has a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. That's not a good thing and it's risky to take on a prospect when something like this happens because the next suspension is a long one. The Cowboys have taken low-risk chances on guys such as Amobi Okoye and McClain, but this one just seems to be too high. And Jordan had just two sacks last season. I don't think he's part of the answer. Lawrence will be back and probably play the bulk of the season.
@toddarcher: Why not? This team will be led by its offense. I don't know if I should get carried away with what I've seen from the offense because the defense has not been great, or if I should be less worried about the defense because the offense is so good. But if the Cowboys are going to go 8-8 -- or better -- then it will be because of the offense. As for these injuries, well, the only guy they've really lost is Lawrence, and he could be back after three games. Every team has injuries in camp, and I realize Cowboys fans are sensitive to injuries because of what has happened the last couple of seasons, but they have not lost guys for the season ... yet. 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- His name was still atop his locker and there were a few items still in it -- some shirts, a towel, toiletries -- but that was the extent of Jason Babin's presence with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday afternoon.

The team cut the defensive end early in the morning, a move coach Gus Bradley said was done now because of the development of some of the younger pass-rushers, but also as a sign of respect for the 34-year-old Babin to give him a chance to land with another team before training camps begin next month.

Babin
Marks
"We had to ask some tough questions about eventually the 53 guys that are going to be up on Sundays," Bradley said. "We feel that he still has some good games in him and some really good play in him. We were just juggling to try to find a way to get it done within our system. We feel like it was best to give him the opportunity to get out there and hook on with another team.

"I don’t know if there ever is a right time or how to do it. We try to do the best we can, but when we’re dealing with a man like Jason Babin that is tough on both sides."

Babin led the team with 7.5 sacks in 2013 and had nine sacks, 57 tackles and five forced fumbles in 21 games with the Jaguars. His teammates will miss him for more than that, though.

"Just the leadership he brings, the knowledge he brings," said defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, who had the locker next to Babin. "Knowing everybody and how we were with Babs, Babs left a lot behind just by the things he used to teach and the way that he carried himself. I’ll talk to Babs probably for the rest of my life just because of the type of guy he is.

"He was the same way every single day. I don’t want to sit here and talk like he passed or he died or something, but Babs -- he was just a great guy. He always was willing to teach and he’s always willing to help."

Second-year defensive end Ryan Davis is one of the younger players -- along with rookie Chris Smith and second-year player Gerald Rivers -- who will benefit from Babin’s release. He was still surprised by the move, though.

"It was shocking," Davis said. "Jason was a key piece of this team, definitely helped this team in leadership. We were such a young team and he helped in my development. ... Whenever I needed to know something I’d go ask Babin and Babin would direct me or tell me what the best move was or pre-snap keys and stuff like that. [He taught me] how to prepare for a game. Babin was very instrumental in stuff like that. Not only that, he’s a great guy."

Babin might have come to Jacksonville in 2012 with a bit of a reputation as a surly guy, but that was not the case with the Jaguars. In fact, Bradley called Babin a "tremendous" leader and said he was a big help to him during the team’s rough start to the 2013 season.

"He ended up being one of our strongest leaders," Bradley said. "We went through some tough times and I leaned on him. He did a great job.

"... He’s a big part of what we’re building here and always will be."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jason Babin's release is a mild surprise only in that the 34-year-old defensive end didn’t even make it to training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was going to be a bubble player after the addition of several pass-rushers via free agency and the draft.

Babin
That he was released Thursday morning is an indication the Jaguars are not only pleased with how veteran Chris Clemons, whom they signed as a free agent, has performed in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, they are excited about several other young pass-rushers.

Coach Gus Bradley has consistently praised third-year player Andre Branch, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012, throughout OTAs. His burst off the ball and quickness around the edge is noticeable, and he has consistently been in the backfield during 11-on-11 drills. Though the players are only wearing helmets and prohibited from full contact, Branch appears to be ready to become the kind of consistent player he was during the second half of the 2013 season, when he recorded five of his six sacks in the final seven games.

"You see Andre Branch really focused and really capturing every opportunity," Bradley said.

Fifth-round pick Chris Smith doesn’t fit the Jaguars’ typical measurables for what they want in a LEO -- a hybrid end/linebacker whose primary responsibility is rushing the passer -- but they liked what they saw from him during Senior Bowl week so they took a chance. The 6-foot-1, 266-pound Smith is a little shorter than ideal, but he has long arms and runs well.

"He had a couple good rushes [Wednesday] and I think he’s a guy that the more comfortable he gets and the more reps he gets we’ll see what he’s doing," Bradley said. "He’s got the traits we’re looking for. Now we just need to see it in training camp."

Second-year player Ryan Davis played in seven games last season and had one sack and made one huge play: an interception that sealed the Jaguars’ victory in Houston. He is another player who doesn’t have the typical LEO size (he’s 6-2, 260) but he’s an effort guy and the Jaguars are intrigued by his development.

Gerald Rivers is another second-year player that has worked at LEO. He has the prototypical LEO size (6-5, 258).

The key traits Branch, Smith, Davis and Rivers all share are youth and potential. At 34, Babin wasn’t going to get any better. It’s likely, even with reduced snaps because of the addition of the 32-year-old Clemons (58 career sacks), that he was going to be less effective. But there is room for improvement for the four younger (and cheaper) players, and that is better for the health of the roster beyond the 2014 season.
Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars begin offseason conditioning on Wednesday. There is minimal on-field work allowed and only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field, so there’s not much football coaching going on.

But this is the first look at the 2014 Jaguars. They’ll look a lot different after next month’s draft, but here’s an early look at the offensive depth chart. The offensive depth chart appeared Monday:

Defensive line

Starters: LDE Red Bryant, DT Roy Miller, DT Sen'Derrick Marks, LEO Chris Clemons.

Reserves: DE Tyson Alualu, DE Ryan Davis, DT Ziggy Hood, DT Abry Jones, DT Jordan Miller, DT Drake Nevis, LEO Jason Babin, LEO Andre Branch, LEO Gerald Rivers.

The defensive line got a serious upgrade in free agency with the additions of Bryant, Clemons and Hood, who also can play end. It needed it, especially against the run (29th in the NFL last season). Bryant will be a big help there because he plays the end spot that’s main responsibility is setting the edge and stopping the run. The pass rush is better, too, though both Clemons and Babin are in their 30s and the team will likely draft a pass-rusher -- possibly Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack in the first round -- at some point in the draft. The depth at tackle needs to be addressed, too.

Linebacker

Starters: WLB Geno Hayes, MLB Paul Posluszny, SLB Dekoda Watson.

Reserves: OLB John Lotulelei. OLB LaRoy Reynolds, MLB Nate Stupar, OLB J.T. Thomas.

The signing of Watson didn’t get much attention outside of Jacksonville but it could turn out to be one the team’s best acquisitions of the offseason. He’s going to play strongside linebacker on first and second down and then move to leo on third down to give the Jaguars a chance to get four pass-rushers on the field at one time. Posluszny is a tackling machine and Hayes should be better in 2014 after playing through a knee injury in 2013 and undergoing offseason surgery. The backups were big special-teams contributors.

Cornerback

Starters: LCB Dwayne Gratz, RCB Alan Ball.

Reserves: Will Blackmon, Mike Harris, Jamell Fleming, Jeremy Harris, Demetrius McCray.

Re-signing Blackmon was a good move because he can play either spot as a fill-in starter and also play a nickelback. Plus, he and Ball -- one of the team’s top free-agent signings last year -- have become the leaders of a pretty young group of corners. With the exception of those two players, the other corners have been in the league two or fewer years. Gratz is the player they’re counting on to make a big jump in his second season. Just because the Jaguars are happy with their top four corners doesn’t mean they won’t draft one, though.

Safety

Starters: SS Johnathan Cyprien, FS Josh Evans.

Reserves: Winston Guy, Chris Prosinski, Sherrod Martin, Joe Young.

Coach Gus Bradley said after the season he was surprised at Cyprien’s cover skills and he’s expecting big things from him in his second season. Evans was thrust into a starting role before he was ready last season and really struggled. Guy came on late in the season and the competition between the two for the starting job will be an interesting one to watch.
Here is the seventh of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Defensive end

Who's on the roster: Tyson Alualu, Jason Babin, Andre Branch, Ryan Davis, Will Pericak, D'Aundre Reed and Gerald Rivers.

Analysis: Babin, Branch and Rivers play the leo position, which is essentially a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid whose main purpose is to rush the passer. Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks in 2013 but his spot on the roster for 2014 is tenuous because of his high salary cap number ($6.175 million) and age (he turns 34 in May). He said he's willing to re-negotiate his contract so he can stay in Jacksonville but the team may choose instead to cut him as part of a youth movement. Branch looked like a bust but improved steadily throughout the 2013 season, thanks to better consistency, and finished with six sacks and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (10). He also had the second-most quarterback pressures (nine) behind Babin's team-high 19. The other defensive end spot is not really asked to rush the passer much and Alualu did a solid job there in the run game (44 tackles). Davis got more playing time after the team released Jeremy Mincey and the 25-year-old certainly has a much bigger upside than Mincey.

NFL free agents of interest: Michael Johnson and Michael Bennett.

Need meter: 10. The Jaguars have finished last in the NFL in sacks in each of the past two seasons and finding a pass-rusher is the team's top priority along with quarterback. The Jaguars will sign at least one pass-rusher in free agency and it may be a mid-level player like Johnson. It's going to cost a lot to sign Johnson and the Jaguars may not be willing to invest that much money in someone now, especially with the abundance of pass rushers available in the top part of the draft.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on defense and which prospects the team might be looking taking a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. We looked at the offense on Monday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch, and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here’s a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on defense and some potential targets:

Babin
Leo: Call this need No. 1A, just barely behind quarterback. The Jaguars have finished last in the NFL in sacks in each of the last two seasons and desperately need someone that can affect the quarterback on a consistent basis. Jason Babin and Andre Branch manned this spot in 2013 but Babin is scheduled to make $6.175 million in 2014. The 33-year-old Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks in 2013 but he’s making elite defensive end money and he’s not an elite defensive end. He has said he'd be willing to re-negotiate his contract because he likes it in Jacksonville, but he also can declare himself a free agent because of a clause in the new CBA. It'd be a surprise if Babin is on the roster in 2014 under his current contract. Branch really improved in 2013 because defensive coordinator Bob Babich and defensive line coach Todd Wash got him to become more consistent with his effort. He’s a long way from being a 15-sack player, though, and that’s what the Jaguars need.

Potential targets: Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack.

Outside linebacker: Geno Hayes turned in a solid year in 2013 (78 tackles, two interceptions, three pass break-ups) despite playing through a nagging knee injury that eventually forced him to miss the last two games. But the Jaguars still need to upgrade both outside spots. It was partly due to his knee injury, but Hayes didn’t make very many impact plays and Russell Allen, the starter on the other side, made none. The leo spot is a hybrid end/outside linebacker that specializes in rushing the passer, so the outside linebackers don’t need to be elite pass rushers. They need to be athletic enough to play in coverage and have the ability to blitz if needed.

Potential targets: Ryan Shazier, Telvin Smith, Lamin Barrow.

Defensive end: This is the spot opposite the leo in the Jaguars’ defense and it doesn’t call for an elite pass-rusher. The Jaguars want a big, physical end who can anchor the line of the scrimmage in the run game. Tyson Alualu held the job last season and was solid (44 tackles, eight QB pressures, three tackles for loss), but the Jaguars need more production there. The only other player at that spot is Ryan Davis, who spent most of last season on the practice squad. They’re also hoping for a little more pass rush production than what Alualu had, but it’s not the primary responsibility.

Potential targets: Brent Urban, Jackson Jeffcoat, Scott Crichton.

Defensive tackle: The Jaguars’ two starters are set with Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller, but the Jaguars need to add some quality depth here. Marks is coming off a career year and was awarded a four-year extension. Miller battled a shoulder problem all season but underwent surgery after the season concluded and should be fine by the time OTAs begin in April.

Potential targets: Will Sutton, Caraun Reid, Deandre Coleman.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
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Plays that shaped the season: No. 3

February, 12, 2014
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Play No. 3: Game-saving interception

Situation: Third-and-10 from the Jacksonville 41-yard line.

Score: Jaguars lead 13-6.

Time: 45 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

DiRocco’s take: Defensive end Ryan Davis was playing in just his second game of the season but he delivered one of the biggest plays. It was partly a right-place, right-time situation, but Davis did come up with an interception that sealed the Jaguars' second victory of the season against the Texans in Houston. Texans receiver Keshawn Martin bobbled a pass from quarterback Case Keenum and Davis made a diving one-handed catch while using his other arm to shield Martin from the ball.

Season impact: Davis was on the field at that point in the game because coach Gus Bradley left Jeremy Mincey back in Jacksonville as punishment for being late to a team meeting. Davis had been on the practice squad until being signed to the active roster for the previous week’s game against Arizona. Davis ended up being a much better option for the Jaguars than Mincey, whom Bradley cut three weeks later after he was late again. Mincey had 14 tackles, two sacks, and three quarterback pressures in eight games. Davis had four tackles, one sack and six quarterback pressures in seven games. That’s basically the same production for much less money.
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 ends. We've already done the offense, including quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, offensive line and wide receivers.

Defensive ends

Babin
Alualu
Breakdown of starts: Tyson Alualu (16), Jason Babin (16).

Recap: The Jaguars’ pass rush produced 31 sacks, which was a significant improvement from the NFL-worst 20 they had in 2012 -- but it was still last in the league (tied with Chicago) and little more than half of Carolina's NFL-best 60 sacks. Babin led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks, which is the second-highest total by a Jaguars player since Paul Spicer had 7.5 in 2007 (Jeremy Mincey had 8.0 last season).

Sacks can sometimes be an over-rated statistic. Quarterback hurries are a good indicator of pass rush as well and the Jaguars totaled just 29 hurries in 2013, including 18 combined by Babin, Branch and Alualu. Individually, Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison had 27 and St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn had 21.

Though he had just 1.5 sacks, Alualu had a solid season as a run-stuffer (42 tackles). His position in Gus Bradley’s defense isn’t designed to produce a lot of sacks. That falls to what the Jaguars call a leo, which is a hybrid end/outside linebacker. That’s the spot that Babin and Branch manned.

It appeared in training camp that Branch, the team’s second-round pick in 2012, may not make the roster but the former Clemson standout flourished under the tutelage of defensive line coach Todd Wash and defensive coordinator Bob Babich. They got Branch to consistently work and play hard and the results gradually appeared on the field. He ended up finishing second on the team with 6.0 sacks.

Ryan Davis spent the first nine weeks on the practice squad before joining the active roster. In just his second game he turned in one of the biggest plays of the season, intercepting a deflected pass to seal the Jaguars’ victory at Houston.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Alualu, Babin, Andre Branch, Davis, Gerald Rivers, Will Pericak, D'Aundre Reed.

The skinny: Babin has the option to declare himself a free agent, but a more likely scenario for him to remain with the Jaguars is to renegotiate his contract because he’s scheduled to make $6.175 million in 2014. He said he is willing to do that because he would like to remain in Jacksonville.

Branch’s development in 2013 leads to the hope he could post double-digit sacks in 2014, but that will depend on whether Branch continues to improve his consistency and how hard he’s willing to work in the offseason.

Regardless of how much he improves and Babin’s situation, the Jaguars are going to address the pass rush in the draft. Jadeveon Clowney could still be available at No. 3, but if he isn't there are other options (Khalil Mack, for example). It would be surprising if the Jaguars don’t add at least two pass-rushers in the draft and another one in free agency. Other than quarterback, this is the team’s most glaring need.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A look at snaps played by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in Sunday's 30-10 loss to Indianapolis, while analyzing what it means:

LB J.T. Thomas: 70 of 70

S Johnathan Cyprien: 70 of 70

LB Paul Posluszny: 69 of 70

CB Will Blackmon: 66 of 70

CB Alan Ball: 63 of 70

DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 53 of 70

DE Tyson Alualu: 48 of 70

DE Jason Babin: 44 of 70

S Winston Guy: 38 of 70

DT Kyle Love: 37 of 70

CB Mike Harris: 33 of 70

DE Andre Branch: 33 of 70

S Josh Evans: 32 of 70

LB LaRoy Reynolds: 25 of 70

DT Jordan Miller: 19 of 70

DT Abry Jones: 17 of 70

DE Ryan Davis: 16 of 70

DT Drake Nevis: 16 of 70

DB Demetrius McCray: 9 of 70

LB John Lotulelei: 9 of 70

S Chris Prosinski: 2 of 70

LB Nate Stupar: 1 of 70

Analysis: Thomas made the second start of his career and never left the field on defense. He has played in all but 13 snaps the last two weeks. He played just 18 of 76 snaps against Buffalo. ... Nevis and Love were acquired early last week and combined for six tackles. ... The Jaguars started the game in nickel and played it for much of the game. Harris played nearly as many snaps against the Colts as he did in the last two games combined (37). ... Reynolds made six tackles and broke up one pass in his 25 snaps. ... Babin had a sack and finished the season with the team lead (7.5). Branch was second with six.

Defensive snaps: Extra work for Miller

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
10:15
AM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A look at snaps played by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in Sunday’s 20-16 loss to Tennessee, while analyzing what it means:

S Johnathan Cyprien: 73 of 73

LB Paul Posluszny: 72 of 73

CB Alan Ball: 71 of 73

DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 64 of 73

LB J.T. Thomas: 60 of 73

CB Will Blackmon: 56 of 73

DE Tyson Alualu: 53: of 73

DE Jason Babin: 49 of 73

DE Andre Branch: 42 of 73

S Josh Evans: 39 of 73

S Winston Guy: 36 of 73

DT Jordan Miller: 35 of 73

LB LaRoy Reynolds: 31 of 73

CB Mike Harris: 24 of 73

LB John Lotulelei: 23 of 73

DT Abry Jones: 23 of 73

CB Dwayne Gratz: 20 of 73

DE Ryan Davis: 16 of 73

DT Brandon Deaderick: 13 of 73

S Chris Prosinski: 2 of 73

LB Nate Stupar: 1 of 73

Analysis: Miller was playing in his first game this season and played nearly half the snaps because Deaderick dislocated his right elbow. A safe estimate on the number of snaps he would have played had Deaderick not gotten hurt: 10-15. ... Posluszny was off the field for only one play, because he was receiving stitches in his chin. ... Evans and Guy split the playing time at free safety. It’ll be an interesting battle between the two during the offseason to see who can win the starting job. ... Thomas and Lotulelei started alongside Posluszny because of injuries to Geno Hayes (knee) and Russell Allen (concussion). ... Blackmon was forced into more snaps because Gratz went out with an ankle injury. Gratz’s status for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis is uncertain.

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