Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyson Alualu

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.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There apparently is a magic number in the NFL: 27.

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.
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 Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

@ESPNdirocco: There really aren't any front-line guys that are on the bubble, to be honest. Defensive end Jason Babin and Tyson Alualu should make the team unless several younger players have outstanding training camps, but I still think they're pretty solid to be on the 53-man roster. Defensive backs Mike Harris and Chris Prosinski are going to be pushed by some undrafted guys. There may be a surprise or two but I really don't see many front-line guys on the bubble.

@ESPNdirocco: I know that the thought of Ace Sanders getting cut has gained legs recently but I'd be very surprised if he didn't make the roster. He caught 50 passes as a rookie and it's even more impressive when you consider the Jaguars really hadn't planned on using him that much as a receiver but were forced into it by injuries. The only way I see Sanders being iffy to make the roster is if he continues to be just average as a punt returner. That's his forte and that's why the Jaguars drafted him. The expectation is that he'll have a smaller workload at receiver because of the addition of the two rookies and that should allow him to concentrate more on returning punts.

@ESPNdirocco: The pass rush should be significantly better with the additions of Chris Clemons, Ziggy Hood and Dekoda Watson. When healthy, Clemons is a double-digit sack guy even at 32 years old. Hood returns to his natural spot as a three-technique defensive tackle and that should boost the interior rush significantly. Watson is playing the new otto position, which replaces the strongside linebacker and includes some pass-rush duties. Coach Gus Bradley has consistently praised Andre Branch throughout OTAs and the 34-year-old Jason Babin should be more effective by playing less snaps. The Jaguars had 31 sacks last season and it'd be a surprise to me if they didn't top 40 in 2014.

@ESPNdirocco: There is no date. Blackmon has to petition the NFL to be reinstated and then it's up to commissioner Roger Goodell to determine what additional punishment -- whether it's a further suspension or a fine -- he would face. 

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.
 
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.
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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.
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Defensive end Tyson Alualu has started every game since the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him in the first round in 2010. But his streak, which is at 64 games, is in jeopardy.

The Jaguars signed former Seattle run-stopping end Red Bryant in free agency and he's likely going to take over as the starter and put Alualu on the bench, writes the Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon.

"I'm not worried about that," Alualu said. "I'm just grateful for another chance to come back and compete."

Alualu will still get plenty of playing time because the Jaguars are g0ing to be careful with Bryant's reps. He's 30 years old and the Jaguars don't want him to wear down, especially in the Florida heat.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The T-U's Gene Frenette writes that running back Toby Gerhart believes he's ready for a starting role.

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that quarterback Chad Henne is among those who believe a rookie quarterback should not play right away. O'Halloran also asks the question: Would the Jaguars be better off with a second-tier quarterback from the SEC?

SI.com's Chris Burke breaks down the Jaguars' draft needs.

Here's the weekly Jaguars mailbag and chat recap.
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.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pass-rusher, then quarterback.

That's the approach that ESPN's Todd McShay believes the Jacksonville Jaguars will take in the upcoming draft Insider. In his fourth mock draft, McShay predicts the Jaguars will take linebacker Khalil Mack with the No. 3 pick and then grab quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the 39th selection.

A snippet of McShay's analysis on the Mack pick: "...Mack is a tone-setter and a difference-maker, and he is versatile enough to hold up in pass coverage when asked."

And his thoughts on the Garoppolo pick: "I love the match between Garoppolo and the Jaguars here, as they'd be able to develop him behind veteran QB Chad Henne."

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 the value of running backs in the NFL has declined so much that punters and kickers are worth more.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert writes that former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray -- a potential target for the Jaguars in the upcoming draft -- embodies the annual production vs. projection draft debate.

The Jaguars took defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with the 10th pick in the 2010 NFL draft. But in a do-over piece on NFL.com, Bucky Brooks says the Jaguars should have taken tight end Rob Gronkowski instead.

The Sporting News' Ross Tucker writes that center Alex Mack isn't worth the money the Jaguars or Browns are willing to pay.

Jaguars chat wrap

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
6:30
PM ET
1JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here's a sampling of some of the questions from the weekly Jacksonville Jaguars chat.

You can find the full transcript here.

Len Barker (Cleveland): Is Gerhart an admission that [David] Caldwell whiffed on Justin Forsett?

Forsett
DiRocco: Justin Forsett got hurt and then fell behind Jordan Todman, who really came on. So, yeah, it was a bit of a whiff on Forsett. But it was more that the team needed a No. 1 back and Forsett wasn't going to be that guy even if he was healthy.

Bruce Benedict (Atlanta): Why is there a $25K work out clause in Red Bryant's contract? If you have to pay a guy to work out in the offseason, he can't be very motivated. Horrible signing.

DiRocco: Most every contract includes that. It's just a little incentive to make sure guys come to the "voluntary" workouts. Plus, it's a way to squeeze in extra cash in a contract.

Jay Williams (Durham, N.C.): Please sell me on the re-signing of Chad Henne. With guys like Schaub, Vick and The Sanchize available for next to nothing, why didn't we go that direction?

DiRocco: You really would rather have Mark Sanchez than Chad Henne? That's hard to believe. And the team that ends up with Matt Schaub in the trade the Texans are trying to swing [Oakland] is on the hook for $11 million. That's crazy. Michael Vick is nearly 35 and he's an injury risk getting out of the shower. Henne was the smart choice there.

Scott McGregor (Baltimore): What kind of identity is [Gus] Bradley trying to build with the D? To me, the FA signings seem random and ill-conceived. Thanks for doing these chats.

DiRocco: Well, they beefed up the run-stopping DE spot with Red Bryant (over Tyson Alualu). They added a speed rusher in Chris Clemons, which they haven't had in years, and added a young linebacker who can play strongside linebacker and leo. They got better at each spot so I'm not sure why you feel they're ill-conceived.

Gus Williams (Seattle): I saw the team-friendly deal that Ben Tate signed in Cleveland and the fact that LeGarrette Blount and MJD are still on the market. Do you think the Jags have any buyer's remorse on Toby Gerhart?

DiRocco: No. He's a young RB with low mileage (276 carries) and no injury history. It was a solid signing.
The Jacksonville Jaguars added six players in the first few days of free agency. But what about the players already on the roster at those positions?

Are they still part of the team's plans? Are they backups now or potential trade bait? The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran examines the fate of these players: Will Rackley, Mike Brewster, Tyson Alualu, Russell Allen, Geno Hayes, Mike Harris and Andre Branch.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus writes that the Jaguars' signing of Red Bryant is one of five underrated free-agent signings that could pay big dividends .

NFL.com's Kevin Patra writes that the Jaguars' pipeline into Seattle and their subsequent signing of several players is among the best moves in free agency.

On the other side, Pro Football Focus' Steve Monson writes that the Jaguars' signing of Zane Beadles is one of five free-agent signings that make no sense .

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah writes that Teddy Bridgewater is the best fit for the Jaguars with the No. 3 pick.

WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper talk about the Jaguars' work in free agency in their latest podcast.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars’ signing of defensive end Red Bryant is the team’s first step toward fixing one of the NFL’s worst run defenses.

Bryant
Jacksonville ranked 29th in the league in rush defense (131.8 yards per game) and gave up at least 150 yards rushing seven times in 2013. Six-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant, who began his career as a tackle before moving to end in 2010, will add some much-needed bulk up front and help on the edge of the defense.

The spot Bryant will play is opposite the leo, which is a hybrid end/linebacker whose main responsibility is rushing the passer. The opposite end’s priority is to act as a run-stuffer while also providing some pass rush. Tyson Alualu held that spot last season and did a solid job, making 44 tackles and recording 1.5 sacks and eight quarterback pressures.

Then-Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley moved Bryant from tackle to end in 2010, and Bryant thrived in that role from 2011 to 2013, making 87 tackles and serving as an anchor of the defensive line, and Bradley is hoping he can do the same thing in Jacksonville.

Bryant is a better player than 6-3, 295-pound Alualu, who has never lived up to his status as the No. 10 pick in 2010 and likely will take over as the starter. Alualu has one more season remaining on his rookie contract with a cap hit of $4.164 million, but it seems unlikely the team would release him.

The Jaguars’ rush defense was horrible in the first half of the season (161.8 yards per game). It did get better in the second half of the season, limiting opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in Weeks 10-14 before injuries along the defensive line and at linebacker limited the defense. The Jaguars gave up 461 yards on the ground in the final three weeks.

Addressing the offensive and defensive lines is the team’s top priority in free agency. The signing of Bryant has given the Jaguars a head start.
Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

 
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.

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