It was abundantly clear that if the Jaguars had one major deficiency a year ago it was a lack of a pass rush. The team didn't have the talent up front to get to opposing quarterbacks consistently, and they were abused by New England's Tom Brady in the playoffs, as he set a playoff passing record by going 26 for 28 against the Jaguars defense.
With no immediate answers to their problem available in free agency, the Jaguars decided to trade all the way up to pick number eight, and select former University of Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey, who many believed to be the best pure pass rush available in the draft. The team then selected Auburn's Quentin Groves in round two to try and further address their need.
There isn't much evidence available at this point to show if the team made the right moves, as neither Harvey nor Groves are currently signed, and in mini-camps and OTA's, there was no contact. Still, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio seemed impressed with the little he's seen—
"I believe we've added speed to our football team. I think speed off the edges with our young defensive ends (Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves), with Drayton Florence in the secondary and with Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter at wideouts, I think we've added speed to our football team. That's been evident all spring."
At 6'5" tall and 271 lbs., Derrick Harvey has the body of a run-stuffing, edge rushing Pro Bowl defensive end. Although he looks the part, how long will the learning curve be for the rookie? The Jaguars are built to contend now, and the success of their defensive ends may determine how far this team can go in the playoffs. Houston defensive end Mario Williams was touted as the next great thing when he was drafted with the first overall pick, then he put up all of 4.5 sacks as a rookie. Fortunately, Williams exploded in year two as he put up 14 sacks.
Jacksonville right tackle Tony Pashos, who has lined up in across the line of scrimmage from Harvey, gave a scouting report—
"Derrick Harvey, I would say, I don't want to call him any huge sack-master right now as a rookie defensive end coming into the NFL. Usually when you see rookie defensive ends, they pin their ears back and rush up field. This guy has a good, good feel to the game. He's not just rushing up field. He has spin moves, he's ducking under guys.
"The guy has a lot of pass rushing ability. Height, speed, hips, he's got it all, he has a great feel for the game. It's now up to him to learn the game, its' different for everyone, different than college, (he has) tremendous upside."
Pashos also gave a few thoughts on the Jaguars second-round pick, Quentin Groves—
"He has a little less rush than Derrick, but he has a lot of speed. He was a little more of the guy coming off the edge really hard, really fast, bending that corner he'll dip underneath, spin on us and stuff."
Although Harvey and Groves are both rookies, expectations will be far different for both players. Since the Jaguars traded much of the second day of their draft to acquire Harvey, he is going to be expected to make a much more immediate impact. Harvey also has the "weight" of what is sure to be a fairly large contract behind him that fans and media will remind him of frequently. Groves should be able to fly a little more under the radar, and ease into his role which will likely be a situational pass rusher.
"It's football, man," said the Jaguars second-round pick. "It's grueling, hot, everybody pounding each other, so I think it's going to be pretty hard."
The Jaguars hope that their training camp pounding will lead to both Harvey and Groves pounding opposing team's quarterbacks in the regular season.
Derrick Harvey Looks the Part
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