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Is Jaguars EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson ready to ‘pop’ in Year 4?

Jacksonville’s defensive coaches think a ‘big year’ is in store for fourth-year outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

According to the popcorn experts at Orville Redenbacher, the perfect bag of popcorn takes two to four minutes to pop. Mini bags, Redenbacher cautions, take shorter times to pop.

But some bags of popcorn, specifically those shaped in the mold of a 6’3” linebacker, can take up to three years to fully pop.

The Jaguars have been waiting for the moment former first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson has his popping moment.

Chaisson’s three seasons in teal have been largely forgettable, but in the eyes of defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, Chaisson is finally nearing his full time in the microwave.

“It just takes time,” Buckner told WJXT4’s Jamal St. Cyr. “You put a bag of popcorn in the microwave, it don’t pop all at once. Some kernels pop a little bit different than the other ones.”

Chaisson was drafted to the Jags in 2020 with the 20th overall pick. He was the second player the team selected in the first round, having taken cornerback C.J. Henderson with the ninth pick.

The LSU product was on the school’s National Championship team and one of four Tigers to be selected in the first round. Chaisson was a first-team All-SEC selection in his redshirt sophomore season and finished his college career with 9.5 sacks over three years.

His NFL Draft grades had him as one of the best EDGEs in the draft class, with NFL analyst Lance Zierlein stating Chaisson resembled Aldon Smith and that he projected as “an impact pass-rusher with Pro-Bowl potential.”

So far, with only three sacks to his name over the past three seasons, Chaisson has not lived up to that potential.

While fans may have grow weary of the lack of impact plays from Chaisson since he arrived in Duval, the coaches in the locker room feel something entirely different.

“You just got to have the patience,” Buckner continued. “We have had the patience. The coaches, we see it. I know the fans don’t see it. But understand, there is a football player in there.”

In his three seasons thus far with the team, Chaisson has played in 40 games and recorded one sack per season.

His best year was in 2021, where he appeared in 15 games and recorded a career-best 31 tackles and three tackles for loss.

Those numbers are by no means glamorous, especially compared to other Jaguars defensive players taken in the first round.

Last year’s first-overall pick Travon Walker recorded 1.5 sacks and an interception in his first game. Also drafted in 2020 was DaVon Hamilton, who has 4.5 sacks over the course of 44 games. Josh Allen, drafted in 2019, has 27.5 sacks.

But the numbers do not tell the entire story.

In what was his best game of the year last year, against the Texans in Week 16, Chaisson recorded a sack but also set a firm edge that resulted in a Tyson Campbell touchdown. While Chaisson walking his man into the lap of Davis Mills doesn’t show up on paper, it adds to the skillset that Chaisson provides.

“(Sacks) are not always the best gauge, but it is a gauge,” outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey told media. “That is a gauge we all get judged on. There are a lot of other things that are important.”

If there was a belief that Chaisson could not contribute, he would more than likely not be on the team. The Jags got rid of Henderson after just 10 games.

Facing what is potentially a make-or-break year in his career, Buckner was not the only coach to say that he thinks Chiasson is heading for big things this upcoming season.

“I am excited for K’Lavon,” Shuey said. “When he is healthy, I see some good things. He works hard. He is one of the hardest-working guys out there. He is really smart. He is very proficient with his body movements. K’Lavon has put that time in. Now it is a matter of bringing it all together.”

While the beginning of the season in September is still months away, every day that passes is like another second in the microwave.

When the team finally takes the field for the first time in Indianapolis, it could be the beginning of something special for Chaisson.

“Now we are starting to see it all come about for him,” Buckner said. “I look forward to him having a big year this year.”