Jacksonville Jaguars Pump Up Defense with Dante Fowler Jr.


The Jacksonville Jaguars defense just got a little more dangerous. Or maybe a lot more dangerous.

With the third pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. This was not a surprise to many mock drafters – Fowler is the number-one rated edge rusher in this year’s draft.

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Aside from quarterback it’s one of the most important positions on the field. Last year the Jaguars selected Blake Bortles to fill that quarterback slot so this pick makes a lot of sense.

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock had a lot of compliments for Fowler.

“Fowler is the most gifted edge rusher in this draft class. He’s not just a 228-pound edge guy, he’s 261 pounds. He has a freaky first step and he also sets the physical edge against the run game,” Mayock said during his draft special on Wednesday.

During his time at Florida, Fowler put up some impressive and exciting metrics. He had at least one tackle for loss in all but one game in 2014. That shows great consistency and tenacity, especially since he played all over the field. His agility and transitions are fluid and he has great size.

Fowler’s a highly versatile player but the constant position switching could be a detriment. Fowler never spent much time at any one place so his depth of experience in any single part of the line is small.

Feb 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dante Fowler runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s break it down.

Fowler is raw. He will need development on the nuances of pure pass rushing. He’s very quick off the draw but needs work in converting that speed to power. He’ll need to work on being efficient with his motions or he’ll get tired too quickly and eventually be steam rolled by the end of the game.

Fowler’s weakness is primarily against the run and fortunately we’re in a passing league. The Jaguars main competition within the division is the Indianapolis Colts who are definitely more focused on their passing game than the running game behind the arm of Andrew Luck. The Colts are still looking for a franchise rusher.

The Tennessee Titans have no clear running game plan yet either.

The rival Houston Texans have a star veteran in Arian Foster, and Foster showed he has plenty left in the tank last year. Of course he needs to avoid injury to be effective.

So it’s possible that Fowler’s weakness won’t even be a factor in the all-important divisional games.

And of course, he has four plus months to refine his technique and work with experienced veterans and coaches. He can work on his hands and transitions. What can’t be learned is the pure power and above average potential. And just in the short time he was officially evaluated by NFL scouts he showed the ability to improve.

And, he’s really, really fast.

The Jaguars have a long distance to go to get to the top of the AFC South but more picks like Fowler will help pave the way.

Next: NFL Draft Day 1 Grades and Analysis

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