Gene Smith: Jaguars could grab a DE

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Jacksonville Jaguars clearly need help in the middle of their secondary. General manager Gene Smith said it’s reasonable to expect the team will draft one safety and acquire another in free agency.

But when I asked him about the balance between the pass rush and the coverage for a team that spent its first four draft picks on defensive linemen last year and signed free agent end Aaron Kampman, Smith left the door open for more pass-rush help.

“We’re still going to improve the pass rush so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that if a defensive end is the best available player that we’d add a defensive end,” he said. “I’m always going to try to be heavy in numbers on the offensive and defensive lines.

"We’ve certainly got to improve on both ends, on the front end creating more rush -- even though we improved, we’re not where we need to be yet -- and on the back end making plays on the ball. We were certainly delinquent at the safety position, I don’t think that’s any secret, and hopefully we’re able to address some things there to help us moving forward.”

The Jaguars have significant investments in picks, money or both in Kampman, Derrick Harvey, Austen Lane and Larry Hart. But they could be done with Harvey if he doesn’t show a major spark.

A lot of draftniks have paired the Jaguars with Ryan Kerrigan, because he played four years at Purdue and seems to fit the Smith mold in terms of experience, work ethic and leadership. But there could be other guys of value in the conversation at No. 16 such as Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt in what’s expected to be a first round loaded with defensive end selections.