It’s 99 days until the 2018 NFL season kicks off and you know what that means — countdowns, countdowns, countdowns!
With just 99 days until kickoff, let’s talk about the No. 99. Marcell Dareus currently wears that number for the team, but which of the previous players who have worn No. 99 throughout the years would fit best on this current defense: Joel Smeenge, Marcus Stroud or Sen’Derrick Marks?
Joel Smeenge (1995-2000)
Underutilized with the New Orleans Saints, Joel Smeenge was part of the inaugural free agency class for the Jaguars. He went back and forth between the starter and a rotational pass rusher, but still finished with 34 sacks and 151 tackles in 84 games.
He’s the only true defensive end on this list and even with that as the greatest need on this roster, is a rotational pass rusher worth passing up the talent on the next No. 99?
Marcus Stroud (2001-2007)
As a fan favorite, and one of the most underrated players in Jaguars history, Marcus Stroud played during the dark days of the early 2000's. Paired with John Henderson along the interior line, the two collapsed pockets with ease and gave the Jaguars an interior pass rush that was one of the best in the league. Stroud helped the Jaguars put together one of the best run defenses in the league during his seven seasons with the team and was a Pro Bowl player in 2003, 2004, and 2005, racking up 22 sacks and 256 tackles in his 100 career games with the Jaguars. He also played every game in each of his first five years with the team.
Stroud is easily the most talented and productive No. 99 in Jaguars history. Imagine a starting defensive line of Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Marcus Stroud, and Yannick Ngakoue with Taven Bryan, Marcell Dareus, and Dante Fowler as rotational guys? My God.
Sen'Derrick Marks (2013-2016)
Sen’Derrick Marks was in the very first Jaguars free agency class under general manager Dave Caldwell and he was signed on a one-year prove it contract. Originally the Jaguars signed him to be a run stuffing defensive lineman, but quickly realized how good he was penetrating in the backfield and putting pressure on the quarterback. Marks quickly earned a starting role and was one of the Jaguars best players in 2013. Before the end of the season in 2013, Marks was handed a four-year, $22 million deal, paying off his "prove it" deal. Marks followed up his initial season picking up 8.5 sacks from the defensive tackle spot in 2014, including hitting a bonus with a sack against the Tennessee Titans. Shortly after he was released, he said he’ll be a Jaguars fan for life.
Marks is a good dude and he was fun to watch during the Gus Bradley era, but he’s just not as good as Stroud — and there are several players on the team that already play his position, only better.
Which historical No. 99 in their prime would you rather plug and play into this 2018 Jaguars defense?