In the 2010 offseason the Jaguars made it very clear that they were looking for defensive lineman for the future. Ones that could rush the passer now and hopefully develop into every down players later on. Defensive ends Austen Lane and Larry Hart were drafted and fans were hopeful that one, if not both, could develop into a starting caliber player. Undrafted rookie Aaron Morgan also offered the same potential to be a strong defensive lineman for the future. But why not Jeremy Mincey?
Mincey was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 draft by the New England Patriots out of the University of Florida. Most draft pundits at the time said that he needed to build lower body strength. He was a community college transfer player that would need to be polished before he could play at the NFL level. The Patriots cut Mincey about a week before his rookie season was set to start and he was scooped up by the 49ers onto their practice squad.
"We love his relentlessness. His conditioning is great, he’s got a great motor. I think we liked having that relentless motor on the field and he’s productive. He’s not always right, there are times when he’s wrong, but he’s going so hard he overcomes some of that with his sheer effort and desire. Effort, desire and relentlessness, those are things you like to have on the field."
- Jack Del Rio on Jeremy Mincey (11/22/10)
Prior to their 2006 week 15 game, the Jaguars signed Mincey off the 49ers practice squad onto their active roster although he was ruled inactive for each of their final 3 games of the season. In 2007, Mincey stayed healthy all season and managed to find playing time for the first time in his career, playing in 6 games and both postseason games. At season's end he had accumulated 7 tackles and a sack. From that point on in his career, Mincey has had unfortunate injury after unfortunate injury.
In 2008, Mincey was placed on the PUP list for a wrist injury that occured during the offseason. It wasn't until the end of November that he was finally taken off the list and given the opportunity to play in 3 games. Through those games he finished with a sack and 4 tackles. 2009 was a complete loss for Mincey after he was waived/injured and subsequently placed on injured reserve for the year.
Now fast foward to 2010 and Mincey is a starter for the first time in his career despite a broken hand that nearly cost him the starting spot. His two sacks against the Browns helped lead the Jaguars to their first victory that was won by the defense in a long time. And why shouldn't he be the one to do so?
The Jeremy Mincey story is one of perseverance and, as Jack Del Rio said, "relentlessness". The Jaguars are reaping the benefits of taking in a developmental talent and developing him. At 26 years old, Mincey is still learning and coming closer to his peak as an NFL talent. Perhaps the Jaguars have found a starting defensive end in the last place that most fans thought to look.