Gus Bradley: How New Coach Affects Jaguars' NFL Draft Strategy
They ranked first in points allowed and fourth in total yards allowed during the regular season. Their speed, physical nature and attitude helped make the Seahawks an exciting and dangerous team.
Now Bradley hopes to bring those same qualities to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As is the case with any coordinator or specialist from one side of the ball, one of Bradley's biggest challenges will be to find coaches outside of his specialty who can lead players to success.
The other major task is getting the right players to play in the system Bradley wants to employ in Jacksonville.
His hire comes in time to influence the draft selections made by new general manager David Caldwell in April.
Considering the current state of the roster, and the direction Bradley figures to take the team, here's an idea of how he could affect the team's draft strategy.
Emphasis on the Secondary
The Jaguars secondary wasn't very good in 2012. They had only five interceptions on the season. For comparison's sake, six NFL players had more than that by themselves.
Bradley's secondary in Seattle was big, physical and aggressive. He'll likely be looking to add players that fit that profile in Jacksonville. Both Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox are set to be unrestricted free agents, so it's a good time to turn the unit over.
Unfortunately for the Jags, this isn't a very strong class of defensive backs. Look for them to target players for this unit in the second or third round.
Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma is a possibility. At 5'10", 212 pounds, he compares to the Seahawks' Earl Thomas physically, and he brings excellent playmaking skills.
He isn't a cornerback, but he would be an upgrade from Dwight Lowery at free safety.
If Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is available in the second round, the Jags would be nuts not to take him. At 6'2", 215 pounds, he is the type of big cornerback the Seahawks used to counter the NFL's big receivers.
Depth at Defensive End
Seattle's defensive line was huge on the interior but balanced on the ends. Before Chris Clemons was injured, Bruce Irvin was a perfect specialty player as a speed-rusher.
Although Bradley won't be able to completely mirror what he had in Seattle, a similar complement of defensive linemen would be nice.
The Jags signed Jeremy Mincey to a four-year, $12 million dollar contract in March 2012, so he's probably going to remain with the team—even though he produced just three sacks in 2012.
He still has some talent and could flourish in Bradley's defensive system. Although the Jags need a quarterback, it'll be hard for them to pass on the solid pass-rushers available with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
My favorite for them is Georgia's Jarvis Jones.
Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks in 2012, and he is the best pass-rushing prospect in the draft. He could play a role similar to Irvin with the Jags or start opposite Mincey.
Damontre Moore of Texas A&M and Bjoern Werner of Florida State are also reasonable options for the Jags in the first round.
They Still Have to Draft a QB
If the Jags wait until the third round, they will still have a shot at drafting a QB of the future.
Tennessee's Tyler Bray is a player that could be available. He's 6'5" and possesses solid mechanics with a strong throwing arm.
He may not be ready to step in and play right away, but he has good upside. Hiring the right offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach will be key in developing the team's next young QB.
Zac Dysert of Miami (OH) and E.J. Manuel of Florida State are also possibilities.
This draft will be crucial for the franchise and Bradley's future. Even though he's a defensive coach at heart, getting the right man under center is imperative.
As good as his defense was in Seattle, that team is nowhere near as good without Russell Wilson leading the offense. Bradley must find an offensive leader to support his strong defensive principles.
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