The Jaguars are feeling confident about their roster heading into the NFL Draft.
Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone feel like they've positioned themselves to make the right moves during the selection process.
The trio answered more than a dozen questions on Tuesday night during the team's "Inside the Red Zone" event with season ticket holders. The key message was that the team feels like it is in a good position to add top talent, and in turn, produce on the field better than they have in the past.
“I know in talking with coach Marrone and what we’ve done in the offseason over the last two years and then last year’s draft, I think this team is poised to kind of have a breakout year,” Caldwell said. “What that looks like on paper at the end of the year, we’ll see. But I feel a lot more confident this year than I have in the past.”
Caldwell's confidence comes with the arrival of Coughlin and Marrone, who offered takes on the draft, the current roster and preparation for the season ahead.
Here are five subjects that stood out from the "Inside the Red Zone" event:
1) The Jaguars feel like they made the most of the free agency period.
Jacksonville added the likes of defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church and cornerback A.J. Bouye in free agency. They also traded for left tackle Branden Albert. Those four key additions are seen as upgrades for the team.
“I think the biggest thing is that we filled needs,” Caldwell said. “We filled needs with difference-makers, and that’s the thing, we wanted guys that could move the needle, that could make a difference on our team and we felt like we did that on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”
2) The team is balancing the expectations for the present and the future with Coughlin and Marrone at the helm.
Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone want a team that is built from within. While free agency was dubbed as a success, the trio knows that the draft has be their bread and butter moving forward.
The Jaguars want to win, but they also want to sustain success for the next few years. Coughlin understands it's a balancing act to maintain success and youth at the same time.
“I think the thing to remember is that the [average] age of this team was 26 years old a year ago,” Coughlin said.
“Now that was the age of the team that I wanted when we first came here [as head coach]. So it’s always a balance. You build your team through the draft, but if you can complement with free agency and you can keep a relatively young team and you can back some people up that are growing long in the tooth, that’s the constant in this league.”
3) The Jaguars acknowledge that they have some offensive line deficiencies. They will look to address the offensive line needs in the draft.
While the Jaguars will be competing with the rest of the league to find the best offensive linemen, Caldwell believes the class has depth in later rounds. However, it's a gamble to wait on certain positions, as the general manager admits the offensive line is an issue across the league.
“Every year there’s an offensive lineman that you feel like has some traits,” Caldwell said.
“We just went through the offensive line with our coaching staff and [offensive line coach Pat Flaherty] and Coach Marrone and Coach Coughlin and there are definitely guys - not only at the top of the draft - but throughout the draft. I’ve said this in our meetings before, there are 32 teams, I’d venture to guess every team has a need along the offensive line. There’s probably not one with five starters that are really happy right now.”
4) The Jaguars want second-year linebacker Myles Jack on the field as much as possible.
Jack had a "touch and go" rookie season. He was moved around the lineup because of his versatility, so he had a tough time finding a full-time role. The Jaguars hope to change that plight this season.
“I think during the year, you saw that he did things better and better as the year went on,” Marrone said of Jack.
“I think that he was challenged early on, trying to learn three positions. So this year, we haven’t seen our players yet, when our players come back in, we’re going to talk to them about what we’re going to do, where we’re going to line people up, but we’re looking to get three-downs out of Myles Jack for us. But again, for us to get three downs out of him, he needs to prove that he is worthy to be on the field for three downs.”
5) Coughlin wants to run the ball consistently.
The Jaguars were awful on the ground last season and their negative output hurt the passing game. Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone all believe the offense has to be more balanced to be successful.
Coughlin wants to play to the team's strengths, but he also believes it's imperative that the running game finds its groove when it's needed the most.
“It’s not going to be straight 50-50,” Coughlin said.
“Whether it’s 48-52 or in some cases depending on your team, you’ve got to look at your team. You’ve got to know what the strengths of your team are. You’ve got to be able to adjust but you do have to rush the football and whether it’s 45-55 or however you decide it’s going to be, you’ve got to be able to follow through.”
More News and Notes
- The Jaguars are keeping veteran middle linebacker Paul Posluszny this season. Posluszny, who is one of only two pre-Caldwell era players remaining on the roster, has drawn praise from the general managers and Coughlin this offseason.
“You like a professional and he’s a pro,” Coughlin said of Posluszny.
“He’s a guy that works hard at his craft, he thinks about football, he’s great in the locker room, he’s good with his teammates. Those are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with and Paul has demonstrated that in his time here."
- Former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee will sign a ceremonial one-day contract with the team on Thursday. He will retire as a member of the team that drafted him in 2004 out of Louisiana Tech. He remains a Jacksonville resident.
- There are some people around the league that are convinced the Jaguars won't select a defensive lineman with the fourth overall pick.
The reasoning is mostly based on the financial investments made on Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson, as well as the emergence of nose tackle Abry Jones and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
It's an interesting notion considering the Jaguars pursued defensive tackle Dontari Poe and other linemen during free agency. Coughlin has employed heavy defensive line rotations in the past and is a big believer in competition, so it's interesting that some have ruled out the likes of Jonathan Allen and Solomon Thomas.
Keep in mind, the Jaguars only have two weakside pass rushers on the roster with Ngakoue and Dante Fowler. The pair combined for 12 sacks last season.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.