JACKSONVILLE FL - DECEMBER 12: Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders attempts a pass while being pressured by Aaron Morgan #97 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on December 12 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Since the injury to defensive end Aaron Kampman, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been searching for a new rotation at the defensive end position. Jeremy Mincey, long-time pre-season star who often fell to injuries, has emerged as a solid player and starter at the defensive end position. Austen Lane has taken over at the other end position for former first round pick Derrick Harvey and played admirably. But, there's been one lesser known player who's play time has increased the past few weeks and he's starting to show.
Enter undrafted rookie Aaron Morgan.
Morgan has only been active for six games this season, mostly on special teams, and has notched only a single official tackle. The past two games however, he's done some things that have earned him more playing time. He's been active over the Jaguars fifth round pick, Larry Hart. Morgan has been turning it on in practice and he's being rewarded with snaps in the game, so this shouldn't be viewed as a negative on Hart's part, who's also shown flashes this season.
In my opinion, Morgan is an ideal fit for a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he's earned a role as a third down rush specialist. He flashed early in the Oakland Raiders game forcing a sack on quarterback Jason Campbell. Morgan didn't get credit for the sack on the stat sheet, but he was the one who forced it. Morgan beat right tackle Langston Walker right off the snap and blew past him wide. He forced Campbell to move in the pocket, just barely missing his ankle and the sack. Nickelback William Middleton came in on the blitzed and cleaned it up, sacking Jason Campbell. Morgan's pressure on Campbell forced him to move in the pocket and not see the blitzing cornerback.
Aaron Morgan is officially listed at 6'4" and 238 pounds, which is tiny by NFL defensive end standards. He makes up for it with his burst off the snap, but just looking at him he screams 3-4 linebacker to me. Jack Del Rio has had a thing for what he calls "DPRs" (designated pass rusher) since he's been the head coach and he's never seemed to be able to find one who fit outside of Brent Hawkins. All of the DPRs have looked like ideal 3-4 linebackers, so it looks like Morgan is the next in line. The undrafted rookie is starting to take hold of his opportunity.