We continue our list of the Top-25 Jaguars of all-time. We took a day off yesterday, but we're now back rolling full steam ahead with the countdown and the #19 spot on our list. A small majority of about 55% agreed with Kyle Brady being bestowed with the #20 spot. As I've said, as we continue on going further, the names will likely be more agreeable even if position is at times called into question.
Now onto #19, a player who was a vital part to the four consecutive years of playoff success this franchise experienced in it's infancy.
Here we go....
#19. Kevin Hardy, LB, 1996-2001
After being drafted by the Jaguars with the #2 overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft, Kevin Hardy made an immediate impact at a position that was basically null and void of any talent coming off the team's inaugural season.
Considered a fall back option, after the team failed to land OLB Quentin Coryatt from the Indianaopolis Colts in free agency, Hardy far exceeded what the over rated Coryatt would've ended up bringing to the team, and became a building block for a young and upcoming defensive unit, as well as the cornerstone of a tremendous defensive draft that featured Hardy, Tony Brackens, and the #25 player on our list, Aaron Beasley.
Hardy became an instant starter in his rookie season. Recording 64 solo tackles, with 5.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles, he was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team and received consideration for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He became a pivotal member of a defense that helped in the team's miracle playoff run to the AFC Championship game, and was a starter in two playoff wins against the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos. An injury prevented him from playing in the team's AFC Championship loss at New England.
Injuries would continue to plague his sophomore campaign in 1997, but Hardy would rebound to play in every game for the next three seasons, 1998-2000.
In 1999, Hardy had not only a career year, but one the best seasons of any Jaguars linebacker to date. He recorded 98 total tackles, with 10.5 sacks (a conference high that season and current team season record for any linebacker), and 2 forced fumbles. For his performance in helping anchor a defense that would rise to the top spot in the league in points allowed, Hardy was named to his first and only Pro Bowl as a starter. He also received NFL All-Pro selections from the Associated Press, The Sporting News, Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly.
Hardy would play two more seasons with the Jaguars, though he never again played to the level of the '99 performance. He was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2001 season after injury and cap concerns made the team deem him expendable. He currently ranks fifth all-time in franchise history for tackles with 401, and ranks tied for fourth in sacks with 28.5.
Hardy went on to play one season for the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, followed by two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and 2004. He retired following the '04 season. Kevin and his family currently reside in Jacksonville. He owns and operates a successful nightclub in Miami's South Beach area, as well as other night life entertainment ventures.
The Top 25 List:
#25. Aaron Beasley, CB, 1996-2001
#24. Bryan Barker, P, 1995-2000
#23. Donovin Darius, S, 1998-2006
#22. David Garrard, QB, 2002-2010
#21. Josh Scobee, K, 2004-Present
#20. Kyle Brady, TE, 1999-2006
#19. Kevin Hardy, LB, 1996-2001