MADISON WI - OCTOBER 16: J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a sack against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16 2010 in Madison Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
According to Tony Pauline, the man who oh-so subtle dropped Tyson Alualu for the Jacksonville Jaguars the week before the 2010 NFL Draft dropped an interesting nugget for the Jacksonville Jaguars again. Pauline states that the Jaguars would like to look for a "bigger" defensive end and will be targeting players like J.J. Watt of Wisconsin and Cameron Jordan of California.
The next key spot is Miami at 15 because Miami picks right ahead of Jacksonville and Miami is in desperate need of a quarterback. Either Miami reaches for a quarterback, takes Mark Ingram, or trades down to a team that wants to jump ahead of Jacksonville and take a defensive lineman because they think Jacksonville is gonna take a defensive lineman. They want a big defensive end. That's what I'm hearing; J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan, if he slides
The above is what Tony Pauline had to say about the 15th and 16th overall pick in the draft when discussing a mock draft with former Jaguars and now Green Bay Packers writer Vic Ketchman.
The most interesting thing to me about those names are the fact that both players are ideal fits for a 3-4 defensive front. We've had the to 3-4 or not to 3-4 discussion quite a bit here on Big Cat Country, but I wanted to run through it one last time. While both Watt and Jordan could play in a 4-3 at the strong side end position, they're best fit is at the defensive end position in a 3-4, coincidentally where Jordan played his entire college career.
We have many discussions that the Jaguars don't have the personnel to make the dive into full 3-4 defensive switch. I'll agree somewhat, but I don't believe their transition is going to be a full swan dive. The Jaguars, I believe, are slowly building into the transition, and it began in Gene Smith's first draft. Just look at the players he's drafted and signed in undrafted free agency, and you'll get your clues.
Smith pulled defensive tackle Terrance Knighton in the third round of the 2009 draft. Knighton works well as a 4-3 tackle, but he also excels at the 3-4 nose tackle position which is typically the cornerstone of any 3-4. In 2009 as undrafted free agents, the Jaguars signed Jeremy Navarre and Julius Williams. Navarre was a fit at 3-4 end in 2009 when the Jaguars played the defensive front for 8 games. Williams was viewed as an ideal fit for a 3-4 outside linebacker coming out, and often compared to Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison, as far as his skill set. Linebacker Russell Allen was also signed, who many feel would fit in well as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, Gene Smith went heavy on the defensive side of the ball. He drafted Tyson Alualu, who played 3-4 defensive end primarily at California, and also came back in the third round to take D'Anthony Smith. Smith was viewed as a pass rushing 4-3 under tackle or a possible fit as a 3-4 end. Smith picked up Larry Hart in the fifth round, whom many viewed as a 3-4 outside linebacker candidate. He also picked up defensive end Austen Lane, who was worked out by many a 3-4 team as an outside linebacker/down end player prior to the draft.
As undrafted free agents in 2010, Gene Smith brought in linebacker Kyle Bosworth, Aaron Morgan, and Jacob Cutrera. All three could fit in a 3-4, and Aaron Morgan is actually the picture of what teams look for in 3-4 outside linebacker prospects. Smith also snapped up Nate Collins mid-season, who quite a few of 3-4 football teams loved prior to the 2010 draft and played nosetackle in a 3-4 at Virginia.
I don't think in 2011 the Jacksonville Jaguars will run a 3-4 defense, but I strongly believe we will see some 3-4 fronts and looks. I feel that the Jaguars are building towards this transition, to make the full switch with a possible coaching change after the 2011 season. If the Jacksonville Jaguars draft either Watt or Jordan, it will only hammer home that feeling for me, as their potential starting defensive line in a 3-4 look would be young and incredibly talented.
If you want to exclaim they don't have the players for a 3-4 defense, I'll simply just state they don't have the players for a 4-3 defense, either. Many will cite that the Jaguars don't have the linebackers for a 3-4 defense, particularly the pass rushing linebackers, but Hart and Morgan would move to those positions as well as potential free agents or draft picks. The Jaguars linebacking core, as we knew it, was pretty much blown up. Daryl Smith is really the lone survivor and he fits in either defense.
Now, is it easy to poke holes in every point I've made? Abso-friggin-lutely. I'm just connecting dots here, along with some things I've heard.