The Jaguars need help on defense. I don't think I'm surprising anyone when I say that the defense that finished 27th in points allowed and 28th in yards allowed could use some tightening up. Most expect the Jaguars to sign a pair of new starters at linebacker and safety in free agency, but seemingly ignored has been the defensive line.
After spending some relatively big money on Aaron Kampman in free agency, the Jags would have been happy with his immediate return. A very healthy 32 quarterback pressures through the first eight weeks of the season indicated a good investment, only for the heavily overused Kampman (he came off the field for just 12 of 520 snaps of the first half of the season) to have his year cut short by injury.
Looking for a starter along the defensive line in free agency is something that is probably unnecessary for the Jaguars. With Kampman, Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton seemingly locked into the starting lineup as well Austen Lane and Jeremy Mincey capable of starting across from Kampman, the need for a starter isn't as dire as the situations at linebacker and safety.
There is a need for some rotational players to take snaps away from Kampman and Knighton and keep them fresh. What makes the desire for a rotational player at defensive end less dire is the amount of developmental depth the Jaguars have at the position. If Aaron Morgan, Larry Hart, Austen Lane or possibly even Derrick Harvey make strong positive strides it could make the signing of a new defensive end unnecessary, but it's hard to imagine the Jaguars will be content without signing a new defensive tackle.
The consensus at Pro Football Focus (where they count the snap counts for each and every player) is that Knighton was overused and wasn't taken off the field enough. If there's any player that needs to have breaks and needs to be given opportunities to stay fresh it's the one that is a 336 pound run stopper.
The problem in 2010 for the Jaguars was that there wasn't a single player on the roster in Knighton's mold that could step in and provide a similar level of run stopping ability. In fact, the second heaviest defensive tackle on the roster was the 305 pound C.J. Mosley, just one pound heavier than Alualu.
The Jaguars are fortunate to have D'Anthony Smith returning in 2011 and according to Austen Lane, he's "100%." However, the 298 pound Smith is much more of a rotational player for Alualu than Knighton. Finding a player that can rotate in for Knighton is an overlooked priority that the Jaguars could greatly benefit from in 2011.