The Jaguars have recently begun their OTA's. These practices, as we've outlined before, are good for evaluating only a few positions. This is due to the lack of pads and contact which prevent any real conclusions from being drawn on the offensive and defensive lines and at the linebacker positions. As a result, we'll take a look at a position that is such a weakness, it necessitates in-depth analysis as we try to discover who will make the team's final cuts. We'll examine two players in particular that the Jaguars' need to step up. One of these players is the odds on favorite to be the slot DB in Nickel situations.
Two players have emerged and shown that they are ready to go after sitting out the 2009 season on IR. Longtime Jaguars' speedster and oft-injured Scotty Starks has made what appears to be a full recovery from serious knee problems that he is now two years removed from. Don Carey spent last year on IR after being snagged by the Jaguars from the Cleveland Browns in what can only be described as borderline felonious larceny.
Former BCC sage, Terry (Tkopa), has written a couple of great pieces on Scott Starks the last few days that are worth a quick read. Check out blackandteal.com to see his thoughts, today though, we'll go more in-depth.
The Jaguars have to find some help in the defensive secondary, and barring injury (which we can't put past Starks, again) these two players will likely be in direct competition for the Nickel DB position. As such, let us examine each players strengths and weaknesses and what they bring to the table.
Scott Starks - Scott Starks has been a Jacksonville Jaguar for the duration of his career and is a favorite in Duval due to both is on-the-field performances, his off-the-field demeanor, and his commitment to the local community. Starks was drafted in the third-round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was given a contract extension once it was obvious he brought value to the team. Staying healthy has been Scotty's main issue.
Scott Starks stands at a diminutive 5'9" and weighs only about 180 lbs. He has never been a "force" while defending the run, although his isn't afraid to put himself in the middle of a play to try to make the tackle. His small size may be part of the reason he has been so injury prone during his stint with the Jaguars (similar to why Bob Sanders has been chronically injured). However, what Scotty lacks in size, he makes up for with pure blazing speed. Long known as the fastest player on the team, Scotty ran a 4.29 40 in one of his dashes. He also still holds the record for longest broad jump at the combine, a test which measures explosiveness and one's ability to hit "top-gear" quickly.
Don Juan Carey III - Don Juan was a four-year starter at Norfolk State and was named to the first team All-MEAC conference as a senior DB. He showed adequate speed in the 40-yard dash running a 4.5, and good strength for the position by throwing 225 lbs up 18 times. He turned down a chance to attend Yale due to the exorbitant costs involved, however, the fact that he was even accepted shows that DJ has a mind capable of grasping the intricacies of the game. Reggie Nelson is a player who may not have a mind for the game, as he's constantly getting beat on double-moves and plays where he is given more responsibility. Smarts can make up for a deficiency in speed (See Sean Considine). Don Juan was drafted in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL draft.
DJ had a very good week of practices in the East-West Shrine game which increased his turf-cred with scouts and personnel departments. He has shown a willingness to play the run physically throughout his career, something that is a prerequisite for playing corner on the Jaguars. At 5'11" and pushing 200 lbs, he clearly has the size to step up in the run game. The Jaguars are hoping that DJ can make serious strides in his second season in the NFL. He's completely recovered from his shoulder injury which sidelined him for the duration of last season, and the Jaguars would love nothing more than for Don Juan to snatch the slot DB position from the odds-on favorite, Scotty Starks.