Jaguars Positional Analysis- Linebackers

We're deep into the 2011 offseason and Jaguars information is certainly scarce. We figured that this is a pretty good time to examine the current roster, position-by-position. We're going to move on to the linebackers.

More On The Jaguars
- Jaguars Positional Analysis- QB's
- Jaguars Positional Analysis- RB's

Jaguars Positional Analysis- WR's
Jaguars Positional Analysis- TE's
Jaguars Positional Analysis- Offensive Line
Jaguars Positional Analysis- Defensive Ends
Jaguars Positional Analysis- Defensive Tackles
Poised to be a solid group in 2010, the Jaguars linebacking corps was disappointing at best. Aside from Daryl Smith, who has been the team's foundation at the position for roughly eight years, everyone else the Jaguars placed on the second level underperformed, leaving the likelihood of wholesale changes for 2011.



Can Daryl Smith Continue To Play at A Pro -Bowl Level?



Daryl Smith doesn't have the gravitas of being a linebacker from "The U" or Penn State, but he has been an excellent NFL player for eight seasons. Smith's lack of chest-pounding and small market misfortune may have kept him out of the Pro Bowl to this point, but make no mistake opponents know how good he truly is. Daryl Smith is now 29 years old and the end of his career is closer than the beginning. Still, Smith had arguably his best year in 2010 and the Jaguars can count on him coming to camp in excellent shape. The emergence of Terrence Knighton has helped Smith and if Tyson Alualu can live up to expectations, Smith will have another banner campaign in 2011.



Will The Jaguars Keep Durant or Morrison?



The Jaguars have been waiting four years for Justin Durant to live up to his second round draft status and the not so early returns say that it's probably not going to happen. Durant often overruns plays, takes poor angles and hasn't been the playmaker the team had hoped he would become.

Kirk Morrison has put up solid numbers throughout his career but the stat sheet doesn't really tell the whole story. Morrison doesn't make impact plays and many of his tackles come five yards down the field.

The Jaguars haven't been quiet about their wishes to upgrade the defense through free agency and the size of their wallets will likely determine if Durant or Morrison, or possibly even both comes back. If we were making the calls, Durant would be the first choice of the two as he has athleticism to become an elite player. Since we're not making the call, we expect one new free agent addition and Kirk Morrison will be retained.



Can Russell Allen Contribute At A Starter's Level?



Former undrafted free agent Russell Allen has been a useful player for the Jags as he is versatile enough to play all three linebacker positions and has been a solid special teams contributor. There's a real possibility that Allen could compete for a starting job in 2011, especially if the Jaguars can't ink one of the top free agents.

We believe that a defense with Russell Allen starting will certainly not be elite, as he doesn't have the requisite skills or athleticism to excel at that high of a level. Still, Allen is a nice player who makes the entire roster better.



Will the Jaguars add any veteran talent when free agency opens?



Free agency has certainly been the plan for Jacksonville to better the league's 28th ranked defense from a season ago. There are plenty of available players who would serve as upgrades, including Manny Lawson, Stephen Nicolas, Ernie Sims and Leroy Hill on the outside. Middle linebackers include Barrett Ruud, Paul Posluszny, Kevin Burnett and Stewart Bradley.

It's unclear how much Jacksonville will spend but they are aware that the linebacker position must be upgraded if this team is going to have a chance of competing for a playoff position.

Charlie Bernstein is the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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