The Jacksonville Jaguars will return mostly the same exact defense they had last season with two small changes. For one, Paul Posluzny retired so he won’t be back and the other change is that the team let Aaron Colvin, their starting nickel corner, walk in free agency. Colvin ended up signing with the Houston Texans and the Jaguars picked up former Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions corner DJ Hayden to fill that role.
“D.J. has done a real nice job. When he was out in Oakland, obviously he was a first-round pick, he played a lot of nickel out in Oakland. We evaluated him a year ago. We evaluated him a year ago, and we liked him as a nickel,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said last week when asked how Hayden has done. “Then he goes up to Detroit, doesn’t play a lot of nickel, but we knew he had that skillset. We are really locking him in at that position. He is getting a lot of reps in our sub package at nickel. You see him growing within our package. Once again, we play things a little different than maybe Teryl [Austin] did up in Detroit, and so he is just learning what our expectations are. You see the explosiveness, the lateral movement that we are looking for and the instincts it takes to play nickel.”
Hayden didn’t work out as a first round pick with the Raiders, but by all accounts with the Lions he was just fine as a nickel corner in the times he played. He’s going to play a lot more with the Jaguars, but he has a much better team around him than he had with the Raiders and the Lions.
Losing Colvin is going to hurt, as he was a solid player, but it sounds like the Jaguars are happy with what they’ve seen from his replacement so far.