Similar to the offensive line, the Jacksonville defensive line will need some depth. Luckily for them, likely picking in the top three may secure a great opportunity to not only improve the position group but to bring a game-changer in the building.
Michigan’s standout Heisman trophy finalist Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s star pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux have been consistently mentioned among those who will be the top pick in April. If Hutchinson is on the board come the Jags’ pick, they would pull the trigger. The Wolverines star is a game wrecker – 14 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 58 tackles (38 solo) during the regular season propelled Michigan to the College Football Playoff for the first time.
In the other corner, there’s Thibodeaux who is two years removed from being named the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and is an All-Pac-12 first-team member to go along with his second-team honor in 2019. Thibodeaux has been considered an early first-rounder since he became an Oregon Duck.
He has surreal athleticism, being able to power rush through blockers or evading them with ease via his unstoppable first-step speed. Future NFL star is written all over him. The only problem is the Lions and Jets stand in their way of getting one of these rushers. However, given the Jaguars stay in the position they’re in as per their record, one of these prospects may land in Duval. If so, the pass rush immediately receives an upgrade.
Jacksonville’s Josh Allen has the upside to be a mainstay for the franchise in the future as an edge rusher. Aside from Allen, they feature the defensive end/outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson, another first-round talent looking to be a key piece moving forward as he continues to develop. Additionally, the Jaguars picked up defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris in 2021 free agency on a three-year, $28.65 million deal ($14 million guaranteed).
Malcom Brown with 47 total tackles and Dawuane Smoot, with five sacks this year, have been the major pieces in the interior. Their depth in the middle of their line is very slim so, we should anticipate people around the organization consider improving this position with a pick later on.
An early selection of a rusher guarantees an improvement from sitting at 21st in the league in pass rush win rate (39%). Even if Hutchinson or Thibodeaux don’t fall to the Jaguars in round one, they will have plenty of chances on April 29th through the 30th to bolster their defensive line whether it be for pass rusher or a run stopper.