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Jaguars vs Lions: Players to watch

Keep a close eye on Luke Fortner and a pair of defenders this week against Detroit

Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

This week, 2021 first overall pick Travon Walker and the the 4-7 Jacksonville Jaguars are facing second overall pick Aiden Hutchinson and the 4-7 Detroit Lions. The Jaguars are 1-point underdogs according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

These are the players I’ll be watching most on either side of the ball.

Center Luke Fortner

Jacksonville’s 65th overall selection of the 2021 draft has been a liability against one-on-one pass rushes this season. He allowed four pressures in a single game for the third time last week, and he’s allowed multiple pressures in all but three games this year (per PFF).

As you saw on the JaMycal Hasty score, Luke Fortner and the rest of the offensive line clearly benefit from Trevor Lawrence. Fortner’s 23 pressures have resulted in just five quarterback hits and one sack on the season, as Lawrence minimizes the pass rush with impressive pocket presence and timely throws.

If Jacksonville’s weak link in its pass protection can hold up on Sunday, Lawrence and the rest of the offense should have few troubles against Detroit’s defense. The Lions rank dead last in both yards per play allowed and Expected Points Added per play allowed this season.

DT DaVon Hamilton and CB Darius Williams

Rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker will garner media attention because of where Jacksonville and Detroit picked in the latest draft, but I want to focus on another Jaguars defensive lineman. Though Walker has played well against the run, Jacksonville’s rushing defense is led in the interior by DaVon Hamilton.

The third-year defensive tackle will have one of his toughest but important matchups of the year against Lions center Frank Ragnow. He currently ranks third in ESPN’s run block win rate and ninth in pass block win rate (per ESPN) at his position.

Jaguars slot cornerback Darius Williams will also have one of his biggest tests of the season this week against Detroit’s Amon-Ra St. Brown. The emerging star receiver ranks top-10 in targets and receptions out of the slot this year.

Jacksonville must limit St. Brown and contain Lions early down rushes to get into third down passing situations agains Jared Goff.