I chose not to attend the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie mini-camp on Friday because I had already made plans with my wife and mother-in-law to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron that afternoon. Plus, it's rookie mini-camp and there wasn't a first round quarterback there this year, so I didn't really think it was worthwhile.
RIght as the movie started however, my phone started going crazy with text messages and Twitter notifications. You could say that after the Avengers movie, I had infinity notifications.
My first reaction to the Dante Fowler, Jr. ACL news was, "Well, that sucks."
I didn't really know how to react to it. It was just so surreal. The No. 3 overall pick suffers a season ending injury an hour into the first non-padded practice of the season a week following the NFL Draft.
How does that even happen?
How does Fowler's loss effect the defense?
After thinking about the Fowler injury most of the day, I came away not feeling too devastated in the grand scheme of things. Fowler was picked with an eye to the future, not to be the fix to the pass rush in the 2015 season. He likely would have played a lot of snaps and quite certainly would have made some plays, but the Jaguars are fortunate that they have a deep defensive line.
Even with losing Fowler for the year, which isn't official but most likely will be made as such on Saturday, there has still been a net gain in the pass rush on the defensive line. While Marks is recovering from injury, the team picked a similar player in Michael Bennett in the sixth round. The team also replaced Red Bryant with Jared Odrick, who offers more pass rush than Bryant did and from multiple position. You also have to consider the addition of Dan Skuta, who has some pass rush ability as well.
Overall, it's a crushing loss morale wise, but on the field I'm not sure it will be a crushing blow. For instance, losing someone like T.J. Yeldon or Allen Robinson would have a much bigger ripple effect and stress on the win-loss record than Fowler will, in my opinion.
But I want to reiterate, losing Fowler sucks. Big time. It was a huge morale killer, from all accounts.
What about Fowler's contract?
I've seen a lot of people ask about what this means for Fowler's contract, since he was unsigned while participating in mini-camp. Fowler did sign a waiver sheet before practicing, like all draft picks do, which requires the Jaguars to negotaite with him in "good faith", which means that the team can still choose not to sign him, but injury cannot be the reason to do so. Fowler should still get the same contract he would have gotten without the injury, somewhere in the realm of a 4-years, $23.5 million deal, fully guaranteed.
The Silver Lining
As mentioned, Fowler's injury is a morale killed, but I don't think it's going to be a coup de gras for the Jaguars this season. I don't really think it will change many win-loss predictions for the Jaguars, since the majority of that falls on Blake Bortles and his development. But, Fowler is just 20-years old and now has plenty of time to rehab his injury and come back stronger next season. He'll likely redshirt this year, and all reports so far seem to indicate it was simply just an ACL tear, which players typically come back from 100 percent.
Any roster moves coming?
Personally, I don't think so. The defensive end market is pretty thin right now and I don't expect Dave Caldwell to make any knee-jerk roster moves like trying to trade for Bruce Irvin or anything. Though, I wouldn't mind exploring Bruce Irvin....
Some names to keep an eye on if the team does want to add to the position are recently released Michael Buchanan, Osi Umemyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, Corey Wootton and Robert Geathers.