By Amol Nadkarni
A common trend in fantasy is for players to draft defenses much earlier than they should actually be drafted. Don’t fall for that trap! There are so many “sleepers” available during those later rounds, that you should wait till the very end of the draft to grab a defense. In fact, you don’t even have to draft a defense and can pick up one on the waivers if you really like. One defense that should be available on waivers and one that you can potentially plug and play throughout the season is the Jacksonville Jaguars Defense.
Over the past few seasons, the Jaguars have worked to build a young talented offense and based off last season, they appear to have achieved just that. However they have not neglected the defensive side of the ball and have under-the-radar started assembling a defense that could turn become one of the league’s top units in 2016. This offseason HC Gus Bradley, a former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, made a concerted effort to shore up his 4-3 defense. In the draft, the Jaguars pulled off an impressive coup in drafting former Florida State CB Jalen Ramsey in the first round and then former UCLA Bruin LB Myles Jack in the second. Both players were considered top-ten talents, with the former dropping due to “down the road” health concerns. The two rookies will join a unit that has some exciting talent.
On the defensive line, the Jaguars have an impressive young core of players. DE Malik Jackson is the veteran of the group, but DT Tyson Alualu and DT Roy Miller are also experienced starters who make up a big stout interior. The real player to get excited about on the line is DE Dante Fowler, who was drafted with the third pick in the 2015 draft, but was forced to miss the entire 2015 season with an ACL injury during mini-camp. Fowler was an elite pass-rusher at the University of Florida and with him lining up across from Jackson, the Jaguars might just have great one-two pass rush.
At the linebacker level, Jack will line up along dependable starters LB Paul Posluszny and LB Telvin Smith. Smith is a very underrated linebacker who can make plays all over the field and although Posluszny is more limited to being a great run defender, the addition of Jack’s speed and instincts make this unit an exciting one to watch.
At the secondary level, Ramsey will instantly slot in as the top corner on the depth chart. Ramsey was considered one of the best corners to come out since CB Patrick Peterson and has drawn many comparisons to the Arizona Cardinal cornerback. Opposite Ramsey will be CB Davon House, who is a reliable defensive back who has the starter experience you want from your number two corner. At safety, SS Jonathan Cyprien and FS Tashaun Gipson might not be house hold names but they are effective at their jobs and play within their limits.
The Jaguars defense has the talent to be something special this season. As a young unit, the defense will certainly buy into Bradley’s defensive philosophy, a philosophy that for so many seasons made the Seahawk’s one of the top defenses in the league. If have the patience to wait, the Jaguar’s defense looks like a unit on the rise.