Jaguars: Defensive Tackles

In this series we will look at each position on the Jaguars, determine the talent and needs, and suggest changes. The next position group we are going to analyze is the Jaguars defensive tackles.

Once upon a time, the Jaguars had a wealth of riches at defensive tackle, and had the most powerful tandem of tackles in the game in John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. It seems as if injuries and age are rapidly catching up to the team at this position and they need to stop living in the present and start thinking about the future.

Starters: LDT Marcus Stroud, RDT John Henderson; Backups: Rob Meier, Derek Landri, Grady Jackson, Tony McDaniel.

Marcus Stroud just finished his second consecutive season where he missed significant time with leg/ankle injuries, and also a drug suspension (performance enhancing). Stroud had surgery last offseason and didn't seem to play anywhere near the level of when he was a Pro Bowler a few years ago. Marcus will turn 30 before training camp, and his future with the team is in some doubt due to his recent injury history.

    Contract status: Stroud is under contract through 2010, but he is due to earn $5M in salary in 2008, $5.5M in 2009, and $6M in 2010. The team may ask him to take a pay cut, as Stroud hasn't lived up to those salary numbers in two or three years.

John Henderson is the anchor of the defensive line, and he had a disappointing 2007 season by his standards. Part of Henderson's drop off in play could have stemmed from the absence of Stroud, but Henderson certainly didn't dominate like he did a year ago. Henderson just turned 29 years old, and should be entering the prime of his career.

    Contract status: Henderson is under contract through 2011.

Rob Meier started nine games for the Jaguars in 2007, and played well in his spots. Meier is normally a rotation guy that comes in on passing downs, due to his ability to affect the quarterback. Meier can play some defensive end in a pinch, due to his more athletic 6'5", 308 lb. frame.

    Contract status: Meier is under contract through 2008. With the Jaguars influx of youth at the defensive tackle position, don't expect the team to offer Meier any extension prior to the end of the season based on his age (31 before the start of next year) and the team's depth at the position.

Grady Jackson was signed as a free agent nearly halfway through the season, and did a more than admirable job as a rotational defensive tackle. Grady's mammoth 6'2", 362 lb. (on a light day) frame makes him a very good run stuffer, and he still has athleticism to get off blocks. Grady just turned 35 years old last week.

    Contract status: Jackson is an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars should try to re-sign Jackson in case Stroud can't go and the younger guys aren't ready to go. Jackson turned out to be one of the team's best free agent signings in 2007.

Derek Landri was a fifth-round pick from Notre Dame in 2007, and played very well in limited opportunities as a rotational DT. Landri was used more and more as the season progressed on passing downs, and was able to pull a defensive lineman "hat trick" in the Jaguars playoff victory at Pittsburgh, as he registered a sack, a fumble recovery, and an interception of Ben Roethlisberger. Landri's future looks bright as a rotation guy.

    Contract status: Landri is under contract through the 2010 season (rookie deal).

Tony McDaniel missed most of the 2007 season with a wrist injury, after being fairly productive as a rookie in 2006. McDaniel has a nice mix of size and agility as he stands 6'7", 295 lbs. At just 23 years of age, McDaniel should figure in to the Jaguars future plans at defensive tackle.

    Contract status: McDaniel is under contract through the 2008 season before becoming a restricted free agent.

Are changes necessary? Maybe. Stroud went down with a serious foot injury and it appears as if his career is spiraling downward. Henderson is still a very good player, but he must be teamed with someone else with great ability to reach his highest potential. The young guys look pretty good, but are mostly unproven.

Other free agent options that could be available: Corey Williams, Brian Young, Ian Scott, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, Chuck Darby, Ellis Wyms, Albert Haynesworth, Randy Starks, and Shaun Rogers (currently under contract but rumored to be on the market).

Who makes sense? Haynesworth is the best option available, but it would be shocking if Tennessee let him hit the market. Rogers is very talented, but what would the price be? As you can plainly see by the list of free agent options, teams in the NFL tend to lock up their talented big guys for the long term.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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