Jaguars Youth Movement

In a perfect NFL world, teams would be afforded the ability to slowly blend their rookies into the rotation at any position, without many early expectations from fans and media. Some teams are afforded that luxury at certain positions, but the Jaguars are not one of them, especially when it comes to their defensive line.

The Jaguars were arguably a pass rush away from playing in the AFC Championship game a season ago, and without any legitimate free agent options that would've upgraded their front four, Jacksonville was forced to turn to the draft to try and fill their most vital need.

The Jaguars front office did as much as they could to acquire the best defensive end available, as they mortgaged almost all of their second-day selections to trade up and select former Florida Gator, Derrick Harvey. The team then doubled-up at the position by trading up again and choosing Auburn University defensive end, Quentin Groves in round two.

It would be nice if expectations were tempered for Harvey and Groves, but that isn't the case. These two players were selected with a specific purpose in mind, to take the Jaguars defense over the top and supply a pass rush, something they couldn't do consistently a year ago.

"We impressed upon them the importance of doing the right things on the field and in the community," said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. "We have a really good football team, the community is excited, and we want them to do their part."

Fortunately for the two Jaguars top draft picks, defensive end is a much better position to learn and contribute right away that a position such as quarterback or the secondary. Jack Del Rio expects them to settle in right away--

"It will be at little easier for Harvey and Groves to line up at defensive end and give us a presence off the edge as opposed to trying to play quarterback."

Whereas the Jaguars rookies are just getting acquainted to everything right now in their first days of OTA's, they will get caught up to speed quickly. "I'm going to put in my work like everyone else is putting in their work," said Jaguars rookie defensive end Quentin Groves. "It feels like my freshman year (at Auburn) all over again, I have to feel around, I have to learn where to go, where we're supposed to be, how we're supposed to practice."

The pressure is already on the rookies. The Jaguars are close to being a legitimate contender, and the team was able to improve the secondary in free agency by signing Drayton Florence. The final piece of the puzzle would seem to be defensive end, and the Jaguars rookies have to potential to take this team over the top. With the team trading up to acquire both Harvey and Groves, a contribution and improvement in the pass rush is exactly what's expected.




Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. 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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