Bradley's defense needed more playmakers at linebacker to complement all-action man in the middle Paul Posluszny. That's just what he may have found in ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers rotation player Dekoda Watson and fifth-round pick Telvin Smith.
Of the two, Watson could make the more immediate impact. He has been ticketed for the new "Otto" role on Bradley's multiple base front. Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union has detailed what to expect from this new position:
This year, coach Gus Bradley has deleted the Sam linebacker from the playbook and replaced it with the Otto, a physical/athletic/versatile player who will be positioned along the line of scrimmage.
The goals in creating the Otto: Be more multiple in their looks without radically changing the personnel, help a run defense that was 29th in the NFL last year, provide another option for a pass rush that was tied for last in the league and have a player who is comfortable in coverage.
Dekoda Watson was signed on the second day of free agency from Tampa Bay to be the Otto.
The role is suited to Watson's 6'2", 240-pound frame and blitz skills. The position is sure to make the front stouter against the run, as well as offer a greater pass-rush threat.
That's the theory at least. The plans have been slightly hampered by Watson having to begin training camp on the PUP list, per NFL.com writer Marc Sessler.
That comes after offseason hernia surgery, but Watson is still expected to start the new season, according to another report from O'Halloran.
While potential changes on the strong side of the defense have been given their own name, there could be just as significant movement on the weak side. That's where Smith will push veteran Geno Hayes for playing time.
The former Florida standout wowed defensive coordinator Bob Babich with his athleticism and instincts during OTAs, per Hays Carlyon of The Florida Times-Union.
Weighing just 218 pounds, Smith may be considered woefully undersized by many. However, it's worth noting that Bradley has made room for safety-sized linebackers in the past.
As defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, Bradley was part of the staff who drafted last season's Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. The 226-pounder lacked imposing size but had the speed and coverage range that Bradley's schemes demand at the linebacker level.
In Jacksonville, Bradley could turn to Telvin Smith as a key sub-package player. The rookie could see time in nickel and dime fronts.
What the Jags now have at linebacker are scheme-specific players. Watson and Smith can provide particular skills that are crucial to the overall defensive playbook. That means that after a season of teething problems, Bradley can now unleash his full system.
Only Watson's surgery and Smith's uphill battle to be a full-time starter as a rookie prevent this upgrade from being ranked higher.