With apologies to Brian Levenson, who wrote an article about the defensive line yesterday, I'm going to hit the same subject from my perspective. Let's be honest though, was there a bigger disappointment at this time last year than the defensive line? I think, and hopefully you agree, that this group deserves some serious credit for what they accomplished in 2010 and, therefore, another look. They showed vast improvement, and some depth is starting to emerge in this group. Again, with apologies, let's talk about the big men of the team.
The Jaguars have two of the premier defensive tackles in the AFC South, and the AFC for that matter. Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu gave the Jaguars the first one, two punch at DT they've had since Marcus Stroud departed Jacksonville after the 2007 season. Alualu was the Jaguars' first round pick of the 2010 draft, and it wasn't well received. The pick left many people scratching their heads, especially the experts. That was then. Tyson Alualu hasn't disappointed. Alualu posted 3.5 sacks and 38 tackles in 2010. Those aren't exactly the numbers of a draft bust. In fact, if he had been a second round pick, those would be considered incredible numbers.
The other centerpiece for the Jaguars' defensive line is Terrance Knighton. "Pot Roast," as he is affectionately known, posted 4 sacks and 34 tackles. Oh, he also built the Great Wall across the middle of the line. The beauty of the situation is that the Jaguars have a "plugger" in Knighton, and they have a "slicer" in Alualu. These two guys compliment each other with their style of play. Once you throw in D'Anthony Smith, you have a group on the inside that will be nearly impossible to move. Just ask the Cowboys.
The outside of the defensive line lacks some of the ability and depth that the interior has attained. Aaron Kampman will be coming off of his second straight year with a major knee injury. When you talk about ligament tears, the prognosis isn't all that great. That's because ligaments don't heal fully. They never regain 100% of their former strength. The question is, can Kampman be as effective as he was this past year?
On the bright side of things, Jeremy Mincey and Austen Lane both showed dramatic improvement over the course of the 2010 season. Mincey was good for 5 sacks and 31 tackles. Those numbers sound comparable to the defensive tackles' numbers. I think he has a real shot of being a full-time starter next season. Hopefully, Kampman can make a full recovery, and the Jaguars can field 4+ very strong and effective linemen.
Finally, I can't talk about the defensive line without touching on the Derrick Harvey. I have to admire the way he plays, sometimes. There were times last year that he showed eighth pick talent, but they were few and far between. There's no doubt that he can play, but I don't see him starting any in 2011 unless someone in front of him gets injured. But you know, injuries are part of the game, and Harvey provides crucial depth at a very crucial position. The secondary will likely improve next season, but it could still use as much help from the defensive line as possible. I think these guys are as ready and willing as ever before.
Since much of the response has involved the prospects of Derrick Harvey, I've attached a poll below to find out what you think the Jaguars should do with him.