Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson and outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson will be hugely important for the team’s success this year.
As the team’s first-round selections this year, the Jaguars have made it clear both will have a major impact on the team, and it has become clear both players will have the opportunity to get first-team repetitions early and often, and, hopefully, during week one of the regular season.
Jaguars defensive coordinator echoed those sentiments last week during the team’s final media availability of the offseason.
“We want both of them to be plugged in the first game and playing a majority of the reps,” Wash said when asked about the team’s two first rounders.
“Obviously, this unique offseason that we had. We know that they have the physical skills to play at this level, obviously, both of them being drafted in the first round. But, we anticipate both of them to be solid impact players for us week one, once again, you know, we’re going to figure a lot more that once we get on grass in training camp, but both of them physically have the abilities to be impact players early in their career.”
Both Henderson and Chaisson enter the Jaguars defense which has been nearly completely rebuilt from the ground up. In total, the Jaguars are slated to have at least four new starters on defense, and a change of position for Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack who was moved to weakside linebacker from middle linebacker this offseason.
Wash indicated as much when asked about the prospect of Henderson being installed as the starting cornerback immediately, stating “We’ll see where that is as we go.” While Henderson is slated to make a major impact, the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator wasn’t as forthcoming to suggest he’d be penciled in right away.
“There’s only about three or four guys on our defense right now that are penciled in starters, because we’re so young and new. So, we’ll see how that all obviously, takes care of itself during training camp.”
A three-year starter at the University of Florida, Henderson joins the Jaguars and their new wave of young and athletic defensive players in an effort for the team to get faster around the football. His pedigree speaks for itself as Henderson was thought of as one of the best cover corners in the 2020 NFL Draft, with some ranking him ahead of third-overall selection, cornerback Jeffery Okudah who would be drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Due to the coronavirus, all teams have had to conduct their offseason completely virtually, with zero physical contact with eachother or the coaches. Because of that, this offseason has lead to a much slower install of their scheme and playbook than ever before, and Wash expects the same to happen during training camp.
“Being young, we’re not going to force feed stuff as much as you can with a veteran unit,” said Wash. “I think it’s more important that they have the ability to go out and execute. It’s really maybe not so much how much we do. It’s how well we play it. I think that’s the biggest thing. As a coaching staff, we have to keep a pulse on it.”
Chaisson will certainly be one of the key members of the Jaguars’ defense this season, especially if defensive end Yannick Ngakoue extends his holdout into the regular season. As a pass rushers, Chaisson will be relied on his unique athletic ability, able to bend around the edge of an offensive line with ease.
Earlier this week, Chaisson was recorded working out at a practice facility in his old LSU gear, going through drills effortlessly as players continue to stay away from the team’s facility due to the protocols in place.
The Jaguars defense will be different this year, younger and much faster, but less experienced. The Jaguars’ oldest projected defensive starter is 33-year-old Al Woods with 29-year-old DJ Hayden being the second oldest. The average age of the team’s projected starters is 25.
With that, there will be some challenges and it appears Wash is fully prepared, allowing his team to ease into the scheme in hopes that it will allow them to do just that.