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Gems to Jags: A Look into Defensive Rookie Free Agency

Filip Prus



NFL Draft Sleeper CB Darious Williams

Jaguars Rookie Free Agency Recap

Nov 19, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) runs with the ball after a catch as Cleveland Browns strong safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s Offensive Rookie Free Agency article, we took a deep-dive into how the Jaguars have fared in recruiting undrafted free agents during the Dave Caldwell era. While the Jaguars certainly have an eye for identifying talent that slips through the NFL Draft cracks, they have also allowed some gems to get loose, especially in 2016.


After spotlighting some potential under-the-radar guys on offense that the Jaguars could potentially invite to rookie camp, below is a Defensive All-Rookie Free Agent Team of players who currently project as priority free agents that would fit what the Jaguars demand from their scheme.


Early 2018 All-UDFA Team: Defense

DE Brian Womac (Rice)

Womac starred as a WILL hybrid LB/DE in Rice’s 4-2-5 defense and would be ideally suited for the LEO defensive end role. Womac looks like an old-NFL Blitz throwback player with ripped arms, taped up wrists and no gloves, but looks can be deceiving. Womac wins with an extremely quick first step off the line, which he pairs with impressive hip flexibility and bend. Womac has a gift for timing the snap, and he utilizes a savvy rip under move to win the leverage battle around the tackle as well as an inside spin move that he uses to get bigger offensive tackles off of their pass sets. To top off his snap timing and technique, Womac plays with an exceptional motor and his refined hand usage has allowed him to accrue ten sacks and 21 TFLs in 2017 alone.


DT Dee Liner (Arkansas State)

I mean, bring him in for the name alone, right? Liner is a massive 337-pound nose tackle who could be the next Abry Jones-type guy to make the team as an undrafted player as a 1-technique. If Liner’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he was the number 4 defensive tackle recruit coming out of high school and initially committed to Alabama before transferring to Arkansas State in 2015. Liner has impressive athleticism and movement skills for his size, however, his job is to occupy blocks and free up space for second-level defenders. Liner could be a developmental guy who the Jaguars could perceive as insurance if Marcell Dareus ends up a cap casualty following the 2018 season.


DT Mike Ramsay (Duke)

Listed at 6’2” 280 pounds, Mike Ramsay is the disruptive penetrating 3-technique that this team may need to reload on after allowing Sheldon Day to join the 49ers mid-season. Ramsay was the lone returning starter to the Blue Devils defensive line and was a big reason why talented LB Joe Giles-Harris looked so good in space this season. Ramsay’s quick first step and revving motor allowed him to accumulate 5.5 sacks on the season rushing from the interior and beating double teams. A native of Smyrna, GA, Ramsay has gotten better every year playing under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, and his 107 career tackles are ample production from the interior position.


DE Jalen Wilkerson (Florida State)

While the decision for redshirt sophomore Jalen Wilkerson to declare for the draft was a peculiar one, a team like the Jaguars could benefit from the fact he likely will go undrafted. At 6’4”, 278 pounds, Wilkerson’s body-type is well suited to play the strong-side defensive end position that Calais Campbell currently dominates. Wilkerson was a 4-star tight end in high school and has an abundance of untapped athleticism that can be unlocked by defensive line coach Marion Hobby. If Wilkerson is going to succeed anywhere, a team full of fellow Seminoles and defensive leaders like Campbell is likely his most ideal landing spot.


MLB Al-Rasheed Benton (West Virginia)

Benton was one of the unquestioned leaders of the Mountaineers defense who has been described as “a coach’s dream” by the West Virginia defensive staff. Benton boasts a compact, strong core and powerful pythons that he uses to drag down ball carriers in the open field routinely. Benton possesses an exceptional motor and is always in the camera frame at the conclusion of every play, whether it is in the offensive backfield or 35 yards downfield chasing a broken run. Benton is disciplined with his eyes in zone coverage and is also a monster at penetrating A-Gaps as a Blitzer. Benton’s mental makeup, athleticism, and toughness could make him a logical roster replacement for Paul Posluszny as a back up middle linebacker where he would be a special teams maven from day one.


WLB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (Western Kentucky)

“Joey I” is a fourth-year Junior who is ubiquitous when you put on the film. Iyiegbuniwe flashes outstanding foot speed, acceleration, and change of direction ability that allows him to be just as effective in coverage as he is attacking downfield. Before the snap, Iyiegbuniwe can be seen barking out assignments to his teammates and is responsible for all communication and alignment for the Hilltoppers defense. Iyiegbuniwe is a violent tackler, and his sideline-to-sideline range and speed would be an outstanding depth piece to Telvin Smith in the event of injury. Look for Iyiegbuniwe to blow up the Combine in Indianapolis and perhaps force someone to burn a late rounder on his rare speed at the position.


SLB Mason McKenrick (John Carroll University)

With Division 3 school John Carroll University being Dave Caldwell’s alma mater, you have to think he has the scoop on linebacker Mason McKenrick. The 2016 D3 First-Team All-American was only 135 pounds as a freshman playing at Mentor High School in Ohio and now looks like he doesn’t have an ounce of body fat on his 6’4”225-pound frame. McKenrick possesses the outstanding length and motor to play near the line of scrimmage to contribute as a Blitzer and also possesses the dexterity and lateral control to mirror receivers in coverage. McKenrick’s unique size/speed combination would make him a candidate to play the Sam LB in the Jaguars defense.


CB Darious Williams (University Alabama-Birmingham)

Darious Williams is the best CB you’ve never heard of. Or maybe you have since Williams is a Jacksonville native who played his high school ball at Creekside. Williams is a prince in press coverage, where he punches WRs off of their route stem and quickly flips his hips to turn and run in-phase, mitigating separation off the release. Williams also shows terrific ball skills and doesn’t sacrifice positioning when tracking flighted balls along the boundary. In 2017, Williams led Conference USA in pass deflections (15) and finished #2 in interceptions (5). The tape is limited on Williams, as 2017 was his first season playing since the UAB football program folded after Williams’ freshman season in 2014. Despite receiving offers from Troy, Southern Miss, and South Alabama following the 2014 season, Williams chose to stay at UAB and hope that their football program would return, as was the case this season.


CB Eric Jenkins (North Texas)

A transfer from Los Angeles Valley Community College, Eric Jenkins won’t wow you with his measurables or his sleight frame. He will, however, leave an impression with his mind and feel for the CB position. Jenkins is a cerebral player who recognizes offensive alignments and won’t get fooled by a play twice due to his excellent semantic memory. Jenkins is an incredibly patient player who times his challenges well, allowing him to consistently make plays despite his lack of prototypical length (listed at 5’10” 180 pounds). Jenkins plays bigger than he is, showing urgency in making plays downfield and continually sniffing out screens and tosses behind the line of scrimmage, as well as exhibiting good functional strength to fight through WR blocks and make plays in run support.


Nickel CB Ramon Richards (Oklahoma State)

Although Ramon Richards played as a free safety in Oklahoma State’s defense, his best position in the NFL will be as a Nickel CB where he can line up closer to the line of scrimmage. In Man coverage, Richards shows good play strength at the catch point and does an excellent job of wrapping his body around the WR to time his stabs with the arrival of the football and avoid penalties. In Zone coverage, Richards does a great job of reading the QB’s eyes and crashing routes to consistently make plays on the football, including a game-winning interception in overtime vs. Texas and picking off Will Grier with savvy baiting vs. West Virginia. Richards’ biggest weakness is open-field tackling against shiftier runners, but hopefully lining up in the Slot and limiting open-field situations will allow him to showcase his playmaking abilities more consistently.


SS Ezekiel Turner (Washington)

At 6’2” 214 pounds, Turner has the ideal size to play strong safety in the Jaguars defense. In 13 games this season, the Maryland-native posted 55 tackles from the secondary and stepped up into a leadership role after the departure of Budda Baker to the NFL. Turner was also named Special Teams Player of the Week in this year’s Apple Cup vs. Washington State, where he would likely ply his trade were he to make the Jaguars roster.


FS Secdrick Cooper (Louisiana Tech)

A late in-week addition to the Senior Bowl roster in Mobile, the former Bulldog, impressed right off the plane registering an impressive interception in 1v1 drills. Cooper lined up as the single-high FS in Louisiana Tech’s multiple 4-3 defensive schemes where he showcased his size and stout body composition in coverage and run support. Cooper is a fluid athlete who looks like he is dancing on his backpedal with complete body control and hip flexibility. In run support, Cooper is a reliable open-field tackler with proper technique, and he marries a physical hitter’s mentality with consistency in wrapping up.

Filip is a Locked On Jaguars contributor who focuses on Offseason and Draft topics. Filip is the creator of, a collegiate scouting website that encompasses formula NFL roster grading as well as his graphic design portfolio. Filip also works as a Big 12/Conference USA Regional Area Scout for Optimum Scouting and is responsible for compiling OS’ advanced analytics for Wide Receivers. Filip is a University of South Carolina alum, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Sports Management and was a four-year captain for the Gamecocks Club Soccer team as a Goalkeeper. Filip currently lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with his wife, Katelyn, and two very good dogs, Balto and Daisy, working as a Special Investigator for the U.S. State Department.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Texans: Five observations, red zone issues remain

Demetrius Harvey



Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws under pressure from the Houston Texans defensive line men during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) will be left with a lot to work on during their bye week. There was plenty to gather from the team’s 26-3 loss against the Houston Texans (6-3) in London.

1. Jaguars red-zone woes are still prevalent and have no fix in sight

In the red zone this season, the Jaguars have completed 34.5% (10/29) of their opportunities for touchdowns.  This ranks only better than the Cincinnati Bengals (33.33%) in the entire NFL.

While quarterback play is an issue in this area, the Jaguars have not made the most of their play-call opportunities either. The Jaguars entered the Houston Texans’ red zone only twice in 11 drives on Sunday.

During the two drives in the red zone, the Jaguars completed 0 passes and ran the ball one other time with Leonard Fournette for three yards. Simply not good enough.

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has spoken about the team’s ineffectiveness on red zone opportunities. “We moved the football well, but we need to do a better job in the red zone,” DeFilippo said on Thursday following the team’s week seven victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I need to do a better job of helping our guys get open. We need to do a better job executing and being more detailed and throwing the ball on time and all of those things. Again, all of that starts with me, and I will do a better job with that.”

Two weeks later and the team’s struggles have continued.

2. Gardner Minshew might take a backseat

Already discussed, the Jaguars might be in for a quarterback change coming out of their week 10 bye week. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in Sunday’s game, and head coach Doug Marrone will have a tough decision to make.

Although Minshew was playing with a sore right shoulder, he was able to practice in full all week leading up to their matchup at Wimbley. Regardless, the Jaguars will have to make a decision, and everything points to Nick Foles being the team’s starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in week 11.

Now completely Minshew’s fault, his struggles in the red zone have been evident for the past several weeks. Foles — during the 2017 and 2018 seasons when he started for the Philidelphia Eagles — was efficient in the red zone, which could point to his maturity as a passer more than anything.

The Jaguars will want to see what they can get out of their veteran quarterback, and there is a reason to believe the Jaguars’ head coach is leaning in this direction. If Foles is not named the starting quarterback next Sunday, it is very likely the veteran will never start for this Jaguars team, at least not under the current staff.

3. Jaguars’ run-defense regressed

Without starting nickel corner D.J. Hayden and SAM linebacker Leon Jacobs, the Jaguars were forced to remain in their nickel package for much of the day. Rookie cornerback Breon Borders replaced Hayden in the starting lineup and while he was not the reason why the run defense suffered, not having a competent linebacker on the strong side of the ball impacted the team greatly.

Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Jaguars’ defense 19 times for 160 yards during Sunday’s matchup. Part of the reason why the Jaguars were unable to stop the Texans’ running game late was the sheer amount of plays the Texans ran to begin the game.

In the first quarter, the Texans ran 20 total plays while the Jaguars offense was only able to produce nine total plays.

4. Jaguars cannot rely on penalties, but two changed the course of the game

While the Jaguars should not, and cannot rely on penalties, the team had two costly controversial calls in the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup.

With an opportunity to score, Minshew threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. who was able to haul in the pass but was called for offensive pass interference. A few plays later the Jaguars would botch a field goal attempt and give the Texans the football at the 50-yard line.

Following the change of possession, Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Specifically, Campbell was called for lowering his head to initiate contact with a defenseless rusher. The Texans would net only a field goal on this drive, but it was a potential 10-point swing as Chark’s interference call was questionable, and Campbell did not even touch Watson on the play.

5. Keelan Cole shines in Dede Westbrook’s absence

Although the Jaguars clearly missed their 1B receiver in Dede Westbrook, rarely-utilized receiver Keelan Cole was able to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season, and possibly since 2017.

While it was not sensational, Cole hauled in five out of six of his targets for 80 yards on the day. The Jaguars could not get anything going down the field, however, Cole was able to get open on routine crossing routes.

In the coming weeks, look for Cole to have a bigger role in the Jaguars offense, especially with veteran receiver Chris Conley playing so up-and-down (2 receptions on 7 targets for 32 yards).

DeFilippo recently spoke about Cole and understands the third-year receiver may be frustrated with his snap count.

“I am proud of the way he stayed in it and even though he has not gotten the playing time,” DeFilippo said after the Jaguars victory over Bengals. “Everyone wants to play every snap. I’m sure he wants [more playing time]. He has done a great job staying in it.”

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to make tough decision next week, Minshew Mania over for now

Demetrius Harvey



Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass in the first half against the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) were embarrassed early Sunday morning via a 26-3 loss to the rival Houston Texans (6-3). Minshew-Mania may be over for now, but it won’t be the last time the rookie sensation starts for the team.

To put it simply, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not play well at all yesterday. Completing 27/47 (57%) of his passes for 309 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles lost, Minshew looked lost during the second half of the game on Sunday.

Minshew has been everything the team could have hoped for — and much more — out of a sixth-round quarterback, but between what transpired yesterday, and a few of his past performances — against winning teams –, the Jaguars will likely see what they can get out of veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

For three quarters, Minshew looked okay. While there was plenty that went wrong, the rookie was able to make key throws, during key situations. One play, in particular, stands out. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Jaguars could not seem to get anything going before Minshew scrambles around and eventually finds a wide-open Ryquell Armstead in the middle of the field. Armstead would take the ball 31 yards and set the team up for their only points of the game.

Minshew’s ability to improvise has been his bread and butter this season, and although he was not able to work his magic often against the Texans, these were the types of plays that gave pause in the Minshew/Foles debate.

During the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and Minshew were forced to take more shots downfield in a sort of desperation move while trailing 19-3. Although playcalling can certainly be questioned, the decision making of the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was equally perplexing. Throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, Minshew had no chance at making a little magic to lead the team to another come-from-behind victory.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be forced to make a decision on his quarterback, but not right now. After the game, Marrone indicated he will wait until the Sunday before the team returns from their week 10 bye week to talk to both quarterbacks.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I’m going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don’t have to make a decision and have time,” Marrone said shortly after the game when asked about making the quarterback decision. “That’s what I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I’ll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we’ll be able to discuss where we’re going to go. That’s pretty much my plan.”

While Minshew did not have a great game yesterday, the decision will be made on more than just one game, Marrone said.

The Jaguars’ head coach is stuck with an incredibly tough decision. At 4-5, the team needs a spark. The Jaguars need to win down the stretch and having to rely on a rookie — still going through ups and downs — is exhausting. While Foles may not be “the answer”, he is the only other option at this moment, and the Jaguars absolutely believe in the veteran.

Although this may be the end of Minshew starting in Jacksonville this season, his achievements — 188/307 (61%) completions for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — should not go unnoticed. The team absolutely still believes in the rookie quarterback, and he has a golden opportunity — if not this season — next year to prove everyone wrong.

One of the best, most fun performances out of a Jaguars’ quarterback over the first half of the season ever, is nothing to get upset about. Minshew provided spectators with Minshew-Mania, Minshew-Magic, and any other Minshew-ism one can think of.

For now, it is very likely Foles will make his Jaguars’ debut once again after breaking his left clavicle during the opening game of the season. In 11 plays this season Foles completed five out of eight of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

It may be over for now, but this is just the beginning, and having the problem of deciding between a former Superbowl MVP and a rookie sensation at quarterback is a good thing. Depending on how Foles plays — if he is to be named the starter next Sunday –, Minshew could get yet another opportunity as the Jaguars progress from their 4-5 record.

Bonus clip:

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars fail to seize opportunity in London, falling 26-3 to Houston Texans

Demetrius Harvey



Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rushes for a first down during the first half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) fell to Houston Texans (6-3) in a disappointing pre-bye week game in London, England. The Jaguars absolutely did not have home-field advantage on the day. 

The Jaguars took to their annual London voyage with a lot of optimism, however, all of that optimism was quickly quieted by the Houston Texans (6-3) as they were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, holding the team to just three points on the day.  The Texans would win 26-3 and kill any chances the Jaguars may have had at earning the division title in a few weeks.

To begin the game, the Jaguars opted to start out on defense with the Texans struggling early on in games this season. Holding the Texans to just three points to start the game, the Jaguars defense showed up big, especially as Jaguars’ cornerback A.J. Bouye shadowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who finished with just eight receptions for 48 yards. The Jaguars seemed to find a groove early on during the first half of the game, but their inability to score in the red zone reared it’s head yet again.

In what is likely his last game starting for the Jaguars this season — at least for now — Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed just 27 out of 47 of his passes for 309 yards and two interceptions. Minshew also fumbled the football two times near the end of the game, which would ultimately end it at Wembley stadium.

While the Jaguars defense played well early on, they stood no chance against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson who completed 22 out of 28 of his passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely elusive, Watson was able to escape from the Jaguars pass rushers all day long. The Texans effectively ended any chance of the Jaguars coming back after Watson completed a long throw to Hopkins for 21 yards to the Jaguars’ one-yard line. The Texans would score on a one-yard run by Duke Johnson putting the team up 19-3 late in the third quarter.

All four of Minshew’s turnovers would come in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars attempted to climb back in the game. Missing their second-most targetted wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars and Minshew couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game.

The Jaguars’ run game was equally disappointing today as running back Leonard Fournette could only edge out 40 yards on 11 rushes.

Perhaps the best play of the game by the Jaguars’ defense, near the end of the game Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde sprinted free and was looking to go into the endzone when Jaguars’ safety Jarrod Wilson showed incredible hustle to force a fumble at the last second, turning the ball over to the Jaguars’ offense.

The good fortune wouldn’t last long, however, as Minshew would go on to throw his final interception of the game to completely seal the game for the Texans offense.

The Jaguars’ offense simply did not get anything going today, similar to their game against the New Orleans Saints in week six earlier this year. Minshew was sacked only four times on the day as the Texans did not want him to escape the pocket.

The team will have a very tough decision to make during their week 10 bye week. Ultimately, the team will need to decide between veteran quarterback Nick Foles or the rookie quarterback in Minshew.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be making the decision, and after falling 26-3 today largely due to the play of the team’s quarterback, it may be a no-brainer.

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