Jacksonville Jaguars: Sen'Derrick Marks
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.
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)
- Luke Joeckel
- Zane Beadles
- Mike Brewster
- Jacques McClendon
- Austin Pasztor
- Cameron Bradfield
- Brandon Linder
- Luke Bowanko
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)
- Chris Clemons
- Sen'Derrick Marks
- Roy Miller
- Red Bryant
- Andre Branch
- Ziggy Hood
- Abry Jones
- Tyson Alualu
- Chris Smith
- Ryan Davis
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.
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).
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.
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.
These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
All of those jobs, which Khan held as a teenager after emigrating from Pakistan at 16, played a role in forming him into the billionaire he is today, writes Michael Osacky of Parade magazine.
"Washing dishes gave me the sense of empowerment and feeling that I control my destiny," Khan said.
During a commencement address to 2013 University of Illinois graduates, Khan said that cold calling was a big part of his success.
"Cold calling is about developing social skills and getting used to rejection," he said. "We are constantly selling something to somebody."
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:
Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes that the Jaguars' young receivers have a challenging road ahead of them in training camp.
O'Halloran also addresses the issue of whether defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks playing fewer snaps in 2014 is a realistic goal.
Ken Hornack of Fox Sports South writes that the offense has to turn things around for the team to be improved in 2014. He also ranks the top 10 Jaguars players heading into the season.
ESPN Stats & Information studied all the Pro Bowl selections since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 and determined that 27-year-old players made the Pro Bowl rosters more than any other age. The 27-year-olds comprised 11.6 percent of the rosters.
So if 27 is the prime age for NFL players, the Jaguars are in luck. They’ve got 14 players on the roster who will be 27 years old when the Pro Bowl selections are announced, including several of the team’s top players.
Running back Toby Gerhart and defensive tackles Ziggy Hood, Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller have already turned 27. The Jaguars added Gerhart to become their featured back. Marks is coming off a career season, while Miller fought through a shoulder injury throughout 2013 and had offseason surgery to repair the injury. Hood was another free agent signing added to rotate with Marks and provide interior pass rush.
In addition, defensive end Tyson Alualu, tight end Clay Harbor, safety Chris Prosinski and offensive tackle Sam Young also have turned 27 this year. Alualu, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, now backs up free agent signee Red Bryant. Harbor is the team’s top flex tight end, Prosinski is a key special teams contributor and Young is battling for a reserve spot.
Receiver Cecil Shorts and linebacker Geno Hayes are among the players who will turn 27 this season. Shorts, who led the team in receptions last season, is returning from sports hernia surgery. Hayes played much of the 2013 season with a knee injury, had surgery to correct the problem, and remains the starter at weakside linebacker.
Offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield, guard Jacques McClendon and quarterback Ricky Stanzi also will turn 27. McClendon is competing for the starting spot at right guard. Bradfield appears to be set as the top reserve at tackle.
@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 How many D lineman do you think will have more than 5 sacks on the squad this year?— Jeremy Smith (@snivlem77) June 26, 2014
@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..
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.
"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."
Two collectible figures of Robinson in Michigan home and road uniforms in action poses. He’s throwing the football, of course, since he was a quarterback for the Wolverines.
That sounds neat to someone like you and me, especially since they don’t make sports writer action figures, but it apparently violated one of those unwritten locker room codes and Robinson’s teammates good-naturedly jumped all over him once they were alerted to the figures’ presence.
Said defensive end Andre Branch: "That’s a bit much."
Running back Jordan Todman smiled when he saw the action figures and immediately deemed them a fineable offense.
"It’s called reminiscing," Todman said as he called Toby Gerhart over to Robinson’s locker to see them. "We can’t talk about what we did in the past. We’ve got to move forward."
If there was going to be one person in the locker room who had Robinson’s back it would have to be quarterback Chad Henne, the only other Michigan alum on the roster. Not so much.
"He’s big time now," Henne said.
The Wolverine camaraderie apparently has a limit.
"Take it out of the locker room, at least," Henne said. "I mean, c’mon."
Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, whose locker is on the row that backs up to the row that includes Robinson’s locker, said he and the rest of the defensive linemen had no idea about the action figures. Those skill guys live in a different world, he said.
"I don’t go over to that side [of the locker room]. I stay in the hood," he said. "We don’t go over there to Hollywood."
But does he have a problem with Robinson having action figures of himself in his locker?
"We haven’t been on the cover of a game," said Marks, referencing Robinson’s appearance on the cover of EA Sports’ "NCAA Football 14" video game. "When you’ve been on the cover you can do that."
All of these comments were compiled while Robinson was lifting and not at his locker so he was unaware that he was going to have to explain himself when he did return.
"One of the fans [at the Jaguars’ open OTA last Thursday] gave it to me out there when I was coming in," Robinson said. "He gave me another one before. Actually he gave me a Jacksonville one last year."
Okay, but you left them on a shelf in your locker? You had to know that was not going to end well.
"Actually, I was trying to take them home but I didn’t want to take them upstairs [where the players eat lunch]," he said. "I’m trying to be low key.
"I should have hid them, right?"
Then Robinson found out about his impending fine.
"Man, that’s messed up," he said.
Robinson did finally defend himself, and he does make a good point.
"I mean, not a lot of people get a chance to have one of these so I’m glad I could collect that and have fun with that," he said.
Not nearly as much fun as his teammates are having.
Maybe not, but the coaching staff and the majority of the players are just focusing on themselves during the 10 OTAs and the upcoming three-day minicamp, writes Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.
"We have not put anything in front of them on Philadelphia," coach Gus Bradley said. "Our whole focus when we have players in house is working on us."
Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks admits he has watched some tape on the Eagles but only to get a feel about the offensive linemen he'll face.
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:
The injuries at receiver are creating opportunities for some, writes the T-U's Vito Stellino.
The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that receiver Cecil Shorts should take note of recent deals as he negotiates a contract extension with the Jaguars.
ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert writes that the NFL needs a developmental program.
Here's the weekly Jaguars mailbag.
Actually, it’s more on Jameis Winston.
Hayes played at Florida State. Marks went to Auburn. The two had a friendly wager on the BCS National Championship Game between those schools in January. Thanks to Winston’s final touchdown drive, Hayes won.
“I had to take him to dinner a couple times,” Marks said. “More than a couple.”
Actually, it was a little more than that. Marks had to pick Hayes up and drive him to the restaurant.
Even though he lost the wager, Marks said he had a good time. Hayes behaved himself and didn’t order anything extravagant, like a couple extra lobster dinners to go.
“He would have had to see me if he would’ve done that,” Marks said. “He was cool about it. We made a friendly bet. I paid up, so it was cool.”
The players -- veterans and rookies -- said they can feel the excitement about the team's offseason moves and direction of the franchise, writes John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
"It’s very different," defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said after the Jaguars' first OTA on Tuesday. "It’s different because of the place where the franchise was at, and where people see the franchise going."
Nine draft picks, including quarterback Blake Bortles and receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, plus the addition of six free agents have people optimistic that 2014 is going to be significantly better than 2013.
"I see the energy,” said defensive end Red Bryant, one of the free-agent additions. "I see the excitement the football team has. I just want to be a part of it. Whatever I can do to help this team be successful, that’s what I want to do."
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:
The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon writes that coaches praised Bortles after his first workout with the veteran players.
The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that Chris Clemons was the only no-show for OTAs but five other players were held out or limited because of injuries.
WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper discuss Jaguars OTAs, among other things, in their latest podcast.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett and Aqib Talib were available. So were Alex Mack, Eric Decker and Jared Veldheer. The Jaguars had enough money to sign three or four of those players, and they certainly would have made the team significantly better in 2014 -- maybe even a playoff team.
But the Jaguars didn’t pursue any of them. General manager David Caldwell resisted the lure and signed seven second-level free agents to responsible, team-friendly contracts. He and coach Gus Bradley are adamant about not taking a shortcut in the second year of the franchise’s rebuild.
"We all know there’s expectations and we get that," Bradley said. "But I think for me it’s more the city of Jacksonville deserves an opportunity to be a part of something really good. I think [owner] Shad [Khan] deserves that and so does Dave. In order to do that, I think we have to be really strict and disciplined to go on our journey this way."
Khan listened to then-general manager Gene Smith and opened up his considerable pockets and splurged in his first free agency. The Jaguars signed receiver Laurent Robinson to a five-year, $32.5 million contract and cornerback Aaron Ross to a three-year deal worth up to $15.3 million. They also signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey to a four-year extension worth $20 million, including $9 million guaranteed.
They signed several other players, too, and Khan sat back and eagerly awaited the playoff appearance that Smith said would come because of those signings.
The Jaguars went 2-14.
"Certainly, I’ve learned my lesson," Khan said. "If you look at the teams that are successful, they’re going to be built through the draft and some missing pieces are going to be filled in through free agency. I think that is the formula for success."
Khan fired Smith and then-head coach Mike Mularkey after the season and hired Caldwell away from the Atlanta Falcons. Caldwell in turn hired Bradley away from the Seattle Seahawks and the two put together their plan to rebuild the franchise.
They signed 10 new free agents in March and April and hit big on four: linebacker Geno Hayes, cornerback Alan Ball, defensive tackle Roy Miller, and defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks. None were in high demand and the most expensive was Miller, who signed a two-year deal worth $4.5 million. The four combined to start 59 of a possible 64 games.
Among the team’s eight draft picks were offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, safety Johnathan Cyprien, cornerback Dwayne Gratz and receiver Ace Sanders. All four started as rookies and showed they are foundation pieces moving forward.
Despite those additions, the Jaguars went 4-12 and started the season by losing their first eight games by double digits. Yet Bradley said the 2013 season was important because it helped establish the culture and the standards by which the team operates.
"We had valuable, valuable lessons that we could teach our team," Bradley said. "We talked about not getting consumed in defeats. We talked about not reveling in accomplishments. All these conversations came up -- celebrating victories, getting better for everybody, being unselfish, learning trust, all these things came up in our conversations last year, and I loved every aspect of that.
"If my sole focus was on winning or losing, I would have missed all that, and we would have missed all those lessons for our team."
It was evident the roster in 2013 was even less talented than anticipated, which produced the temptation to try and speed the process along by splurging in free agency this March. Caldwell and Bradley didn’t waver even though they know expectations are bigger in their second season and they’ll be bigger in 2015 and 2016, as well.
Short-term rewards are not more valuable than long-term success.
"We want to have a consistent winning team moving forward," Khan said. "I think with this rebuilding over and over again is brutal for the fans. I mean, it’s brutal if you have anything to do with it. Just think about it. There are maybe a dozen teams that are always in contention that always manage to be competitive.
"Our goal is we consistently we want to be there."
DT Ziggy Hood
What's to like: The Jaguars plan on moving Hood back inside to a three-technique defensive tackle, which is where he excelled at Missouri. He was playing out of position at end in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense since the Steelers drafted him with the final pick of the first round in 2009. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Hood is only 27 years old and gives the Jaguars good depth at tackle behind Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks. Hood played in an attacking, up-field defensive scheme at Missouri where the emphasis was on tackling the running back on the way to the quarterback. He should beef up the interior pass rush.
What's concerning: The Jaguars are doing a bit of projecting here because Hood has not played inside in his five-year NFL career. However, Hood said his time at defensive end has allowed him to get better at using his hands.
From ESPN.com Steelers reporter Scott Brown: "Hood was durable and effort was never an issue with the former first-round pick. But he may have been miscast as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme after playing as a three-technique tackle in college. Hood has excellent strength and a good motor but he is not a great athlete nor does he run exceptionally well.”
Most significant loss: There is still a chance the team can re-sign running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but it would be surprising at this point because the Jaguars signed Toby Gerhart last week. Jones-Drew is finding that the market for running backs isn't as lucrative as he hoped. The Jaguars aren't likely to re-sign tight end Allen Reisner or defensive tackles Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love, but they didn't figure into the team's plans beyond 2013, anyway. Seattle signed receiver Taylor Price, who has missed the past two seasons with a foot injury.
What's next: The Jaguars aren't done in free agency. General manager David Caldwell said he'll let the market settle and then go bargain hunting, an approach that worked last year with defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Caldwell would like to add another guard or center, an outside linebacker and a big, physical receiver. Those spots will also likely be addressed in the draft because the Jaguars have 11 picks. Beefing up the defensive line and adding guard Zane Beadles gives the Jaguars flexibility in the draft. They aren't stuck drafting for need.
Here are some initial thoughts from Day 3:
Clemons gives the Jaguars something they haven't had in a while: a speed rusher. Though he turns 33 in October, Clemons still appears to be playing at a high level. His 4.5 sacks last were a significant drop-off from the 11.5 he had in 2012, but he was returning from a torn ACL suffered in the 2012 playoffs. He said Thursday that it wasn't until the playoff game against New Orleans this past season that he finally felt he was back to the player he was in 2012. He, Babin and Andre Branch should split reps.
Now that the Jaguars have re-worked their defensive front and added pass-rushers in Clemons and Watson, does their plan for the draft change? If GM David Caldwell was thinking of taking Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, does he now consider Sammy Watkins, one of the quarterbacks, or even one of the offensive tackles? I don't think so -- at this point, anyway. There are still pro days and workouts ahead -- Teddy Bridgewater throws Monday -- and the Jaguars will continue to evaluate players until they come up with their final draft rankings. One thing to consider, though: The draft isn't deep in pass-rushers, but it is on the offensive side, especially at receiver.
He also isn't going to forget the 2008 and 2009 seasons, either.
What he experienced then -- going 4-12 in '08 and 5-11 in '09 -- was just as much a part of Seattle's championship run as anything they did last season, he said.
One of the main reasons Bryant signed with Jacksonville is he believes the Jaguars are on a similar path under general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12. He sees the Jaguars at the same point the Seahawks were in his first two seasons and believes he can help as the franchise attempts to maneuver its way through the same building process.
"They've got a vision from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to everybody in the program," Bryant said. "They know what their vision it. They're going to be committed to it and they're not going to [deviate from it]. When you have that type of commitment to winning, commitment to excellence, only good things can happen.
"...I know what it takes. I know what type of commitment you have to have from the front office on down and that's the same commitment that I see the Jacksonville Jags have."
That's a pretty big leap of faith considering Caldwell and Bradley are only in their second year in Jacksonville and inherited a roster that was one of the worst in the NFL. The Jaguars lost their first eight games of 2013 by double digits and finished the season ranked 22nd or worse in the six major statistical categories (yards per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game). They were 29th against the rush and 31st in total offense and rushing.
But there is optimism because early returns are solid on the duo's first draft class and they were able to add several free agents who turned into key players, such as defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, cornerback Alan Ball, and linebacker Geno Hayes. Marks signed a four-year extension in December and is one of the players around which the defense will be built.
Bryant is another one of those players. He's a five-technique defensive end, meaning he lines up over the offensive tackle and is responsible for the gaps on either side. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant began his career as a tackle before moving to end in 2010 and he said he's willing to play inside and outside with the Jaguars.
"I'm pretty sure Gus will have a plan and the defensive coordinator will have a plan on how to use me," Bryant said. "I definitely feel like I can play inside if given the opportunity and I hope moving forward that's in the plan to utilize me inside as well."
Bryant, whom Seattle cut on Feb. 28, had planned on visiting Green Bay and Kansas City and said the Washington Redskins also expressed interest, but when he got to Jacksonville and spent time with Bradley, Caldwell and defensive line coach Todd Wash he felt the Jaguars were the perfect situation.
"I just think it's a great fit for me all the way around," he said. "I know where the vision starts from the top down and I believe Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction and I'm excited about being able to help their franchise turn it around."