The Jacksonville Jaguars have some glaring needs on their roster and currently hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Since the Jaguars have been out of the playoff discussion for a while, a lot of fan's attention has been directed at free agency and the draft. There are a few ways that the Jaguars can go with the pick and it has lead to many discussions.
Really, there's only one pick that makes sense for the Jaguars however; pick the best pass rusher.
The biggest push back against this line of thinking has been people saying that the Jaguars pass rush is fine because of the sack totals, but that doesn't really tell the whole story. Sure, the Jaguars got contributions from everyone on their line as far as sacks go, but I struggle to say they were "great" at rushing the passer because if you watched the games closely, you could tell they weren't.
Sen'Derrick Marks led the Jaguars in sacks with 8.5, followed by Chris Clemons with 8.0. While those numbers unto themselves are fine and well, they don't really tell you everything. Most people would agree that Marks was a much better and more consistent pass rusher than Clemons, but the sack totals kind of lie to you about that. If you look at some other numbers though, such as things like QB hits, pressures and Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) from Pro Football Focus, it becomes it a bit more clear.
|Player||Sacks*||Hits||Hurries||Pass Rush Snaps||PRP|
|*PFF does not use half sacks, so their sack totals are generally different than standard stat keepers.|
So what do all these numbers mean?
The PRP stat from Pro Football Focus measures pressure created on a per snap basis with sacks being weighted. This is important because overall pressure on the quarterback is a much better judge of pass rushing ability than a pure sack total.
For instance, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt finished the season with 21 sacks, which is great, but he also had 54 hurries and a PRP of 15.0. Justin Houston finished with 23 sacks, 54 hurries and a PRP of 15.7. Cliff Avril, who had less sacks than both Marks and Clemons, finished with a PRP of 11.5 because he had nearly double the hurries as either of them.
Essentially it's putting an efficiency on the Jaguars pass rushing numbers. Sacks are not always the best number, because you can get sacks a myriad of ways that are not because of your pass rush being good. I would say the Jaguars were more of a good opportunistic sack defense than a good pass rushing defense. And while I do think the defensive line is good and deep, they still need to add more pass rushers to the mix and there's no better way than with the third overall pick to start.
As you can see below, thanks to my buddy Arif who compiled all the team numbers, the Jaguars were near the bottom of the league in PRP and dead last in total hurries.
So, while on paper it looks like the Jaguars pass rush is fine, it's not really fine. It's still good, but they still need something to help put them over the top as one of those consistent pressure teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.
The team needs injection of front line talent, especially with some of their veteran defensive lineman like Clemons and Red Bryant getting up their in age. There's no better time than now to draft their replacement and begin working them into the lineup.