2013 Jacksonville Jaguars training camp preview: LEO ends

USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars will have a new pass rushing specialist position on the defense in 2013 that is used for getting after the passer and not much else. Despite struggling to get after the passer in 2012, the team elected to enter the 2013 season with many of the same pass rushers, adding only two rookie LEOs after the Draft.

The Players

Jason Babin
Ht
6-3 Wt: 267
Age: 33 Exp: 10
Start of Camp Status: Starting LEO

Babin was claimed off waivers by the Jaguars during a disastrous 2012 season and he finished with just 1.5 sacks in five games with the team. Despite his age, Babin has proven himself as a strong pass rusher that is lackluster against the run, playing his best in a "Wide 9" role. That success could mean an easy transition to LEO for the veteran.

Camp Outlook: Babin is the likely starter while the Jaguars continue to groom Andre Branch or until the team eventually elects to replace an aging veteran with a younger draft pick; however, he could be overtaken by Branch at any time.

Andre Branch
Ht
6-5 Wt: 265
Age: 23 Exp: 2
Start of Camp Status: Rotational LEO

The Jaguars selected Branch early in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but he was largely ineffective as a rookie, tallying just one sack. Still the defensive end position is usually one that takes time to grow in to and Branch could thrive in the LEO role where he can focus just on getting the QB.

Camp Outlook: Branch is in line to get several snaps in a defense that will likely look to use rotation to keep defensive lineman fresh and even moreso with a 33-year old veteran ahead of him on the depth chart.

Paul Hazel
Ht
6-5 Wt: 227
Age: 23 Exp: R
Start of Camp Status: Backup

The Jaguars signed Hazel in undrafted free agency, making him the only targeted addition to the roster at LEO. At 6'5, 223 pounds, he was thought by many as an outside linebacker and is even a little undersized for a position that is designed for the undersized. If he can build up weight and not lose his burst that was evident at the Western Michigan Pro Day, he could make a push for play time.

Camp Outlook: Like all undrafted free agents, Hazel will be fighting for a roster spot against players with similar circumstances; however, there aren't many LEOs on the roster and Hazel doesn't have a lot of competition to beat out. If he makes the team, he likely gets play time in rotation too.

J.D. Griggs
Ht
6-5 Wt: 244
Age: 22 Exp: R
Start of Camp Status: Backup

Griggs was signed by the Jaguars after earning his way on to the roster in tryouts. While that doesn't mean much come training camp, it does mean that he has made an impression to some degree on coaches. Also, his weight is closer to the ideal LEO than Hazel's, although he didn't time as well at the Super Regional as Hazel did at his pro day.

Camp Outlook: Griggs and Hazel would appear to be in line for a battle for the third LEO spot, although it's tough to say how many the team will look to carry into the regular season. It's possible both make the roster or one is carried on the practice squad.

Ryan Davis
Ht
6-2 Wt: 260
Age: 24 Exp: 1
Start of Camp Status: Backup

Davis is easy to forget about after he was bounced on and off the practice squad for the Jaguars a few times during his rookie season in 2012. At 6'2, he doesn't quite have the length that Griggs and Hazel do, but he showed impressive burst at times during the 2012 preseason and could challenge for a roster spot.

Camp Outlook: Typically it's tough for an undrafted player that didn't make an impression as a rookie to change minds in their second season, but it's a new coaching staff and new position for Davis making him an interesting wild card come training camp.

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