Jacksonville Jaguars: Scott Crichton

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.

Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Jaguars

January, 15, 2014
1/15/14
3:00
PM ET
There are two prevailing thoughts about the Jacksonville Jaguars when it comes to the No. 3 overall selection in the upcoming draft: take a quarterback and grab a pass-rusher in the second round or take a pass-rusher and then draft a quarterback in the second round.

Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Jaguars will take the second approach, which is why he predicted in his first mock draft Insider they will select South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the first round.

That's a prediction that would have had Jaguars fan euphoric in July, but it doesn't evoke the same degree of reaction now. Pass-rusher is certainly one of the team's top two needs, and Clowney is undoubtedly the most gifted defensive player in the draft, but the Jaguars desperately need to find a franchise quarterback.

Yet in Kiper's mock, they pass on the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft to take Clowney. Kiper predicts that Houston will take Johnny Manziel with the first pick and St. Louis will take offensive tackle Jake Matthews with the No. 2 pick. That means Teddy Bridgewater is available, but instead the Jaguars opt for defense.

It's hard to imagine the Jaguars not taking Bridgewater, or any quarterback, with their top pick, but it's starting to become more and more of a reasonable approach for two reasons: The depth of this quarterback class and the shortage of truly elite pass-rushers.

This quarterback class doesn't have the surefire star like Andrew Luck, so any of the first-round quarterbacks -- Kiper has Manziel, Bridgewater and Blake Bortles being selected -- is a bit of a gamble. But there are plenty of other options that will be available in the second round or later, like AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, Tajh Boyd, Derek Carr and Stephen Morris.

Are they as highly rated as Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel? No, but that doesn't mean they won't be better players. Just look at the quarterbacks playing in Sunday's conference championship games. Colin Kaepernick was a second-round pick. Russell Wilson was a third-round pick. Tom Brady didn't go until the sixth round. Peyton Manning is the lone exception.

Elite pass-rushers, however, won't last until the second round. In addition to Clowney, Kiper predicts that Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, Stephon Tuitt and Scott Crichton also will be first-round picks. That means the Jaguars wouldn't be able to land one of those elite rushers if they take a quarterback in the first round -- unless they were to somehow trade up into the latter part of the first round.

GM David Caldwell, however, has said he's committed to building through the draft and you don't do that by giving away picks.

Taking Clowney, whom many believed would have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft as a sophomore, instead of a quarterback in the first round may not be the correct decision, but it is the safer pick.

Jaguars bowl guide, Part 1

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
11:45
AM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The draft is five months away, but you can do a little scouting over the next few weeks by watching some of the 35 bowl games. It's a good chance to see some of the players the Jaguars may be interested in drafting, whether in the first round or later rounds.

The Jaguars' biggest needs are quarterback, pass rusher, interior offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, running back and receiver. Each Friday until the bowl season ends, I'll give you a list of the games you should watch that involve teams with players at those positions in which the Jaguars could be interested.

Some will be possible first-round targets. Others will be mid- or late-round targets.

One caveat: there are a lot of draft-eligible underclassmen who have yet to declare whether they will return to school. Until they do, they will be included in this list. They'll be marked with an asterisk (*).

SATURDAY

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m., ABC): Fresno State vs. USC

Why to watch: Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is a potential first-round target for the Jaguars. He completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns with only seven interceptions this season. He's got good size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) but doesn't have a particularly strong arm. According to ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., Carr makes up for that with his intelligence and intense preparation. Bulldogs tight end Marcel Jensen is huge (6-5, 260). The Jaguars are likely looking for a cheaper alternative to Marcedes Lewis to help in the run game. Trojans receiver Marqise Lee* isn't likely to be on the Jaguars' radar in the first round but he's fun to watch. He's arguably the best receiver in the country. He caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs as a sophomore. Morgan Breslin lines up at defensive end but he's probably a better fit at outside linebacker in the NFL because of his size (6-1, 246). He doesn't have great speed, though, so coverage could be an issue.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Buffalo vs. San Diego State

Why to watch: The Jaguars need a pass rusher and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack is a possible choice. He's athletic enough to play in coverage at 248 pounds but also rushes the passer well (11.0 sacks). He may be the first defensive player chosen in the draft.

TUESDAY

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): Boise State vs. Oregon State

Why to watch: Oregon State has several players worth watching. Quarterback Sean Mannion* (6-5, 220) could be a mid- to late-round pick if the Jaguars considering doing what Washington did in 2012 and drafting two quarterbacks. He threw for 4,403 yards and 36 TDs this season. His top target was receiver Brandin Cooks*, who had 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 15 TDs this season. Not real big (5-10, 186) but good speed. Defensive end Scott Crichton* has good size (6-3, 260) and production (21.5 career sacks) but he doesn't appear to be a good fit at LEO, which is what the Jaguars call their hybrid end/linebacker.

THURSDAY

Little Caesars Bowl (6 p.m., ESPN): Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green

Why to watch: Pitt quarterback Tom Savage is a guy to keep your eye on because he's someone Kiper believes could shine during the combine/workout/interview circuit. Panthers defensive tackle Aaron Donald gets by more on quickness than his bulk and doesn't project to be a player who can be a run-stuffing player, although he is a solid interior rusher.

SPONSORED HEADLINES