The Jaguars once again made a big splash to kick off free agency. The team signed top cornerback A.J. Bouye, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell, and versatile strong safety Barry Church. The trio will upgrade an already formidable defensive unit in Jacksonville that finished sixth in total defense for the 2016 season. Bouye will be paired with dynamic cornerback Jalen Ramsey who is already considered a top 20 corner after having only played one season. Campbell will join Malik Jackson as another dominant interior rusher that can be moved around. Church will work with free safety Tashaun Gipson to mitigate the amount of big plays given up down the field.
How the First Wave of Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents Will Fit In
A.J. Bouye’s Fit
The former Houston Texans corner had a tremendous 2016 season in which he defended 16 passes and caught one interception. Bouye proved more than capable of covering opposing teams’ number one receivers man to man. The Jaguars will have options as to how they intend to utilize the skilled corner. General manager Dave Caldwell hinted in his press conference on Friday that the Jaguars may designate one side of the field to either corner. Caldwell also said Jacksonville could have one of the pair travel the field covering the top receiver depending how they view the matchup. The defense now has more flexibility in how they will approach thwarting opposing teams’ passing game. Ramsey is taller and has more length, so the Jaguars could match him up against bigger receivers, while allowing Bouye to man up on smaller, quicker receivers.
Calais Campbell’s Fit
Campbell played nine seasons for the Arizona Cardinals before deciding to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Arizona, he played in a 3-4 defense, lining up as a 5-tech defensive end and kicking inside on passing downs. Despite being a 4-3 team, the Jaguars will likely use him in a similar manner. Campbell can man the big end position on running downs for Jacksonville and rush the passer from the interior on third down. Malik Jackson also has experience playing as a 5-tech defensive end in a 3-4 defense from his time spent in Denver, so the Jaguars have a ton of options as to where they can line the two huge defensive linemen up at on running downs. However in passing situations, Jacksonville will have both Jackson and Campbell rushing from the interior. The team could play both players at 3-tech allowing them the option of rushing either the B-gap or the A-gap. Edge rushers, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler, should have plenty of opportunities to win one on one situations against offensive tackles as opposing teams will be forced to focus their attention on attempting to somehow block both Campbell and Jackson for 60 minutes.
Barry Church’s Fit
Church came into the league as an undrafted free agent signed by the Dallas Cowboys. He rose the depth chart to become not only the team’s starting strong safety but also one of the team captains. Church is at his best stopping the run, but the 29-year-old is also solid in man coverage. In 2016, Jacksonville used strong safety, Jonathan Cyprien, closer to the line of scrimmage to highlight his strengths and cover up his weaknesses in coverage. With Church, the Jaguars now have a strong safety who can line up farther off the ball which will allow the team the ability to disguise their coverages up more. During Barry Church’s press conference on Friday, he discussed how Jacksonville wants both he and Tashaun Gipson to be interchangeable safeties. Offenses will no longer be able to easily pick up on the Jaguars defensive tendencies as they have in the past. Not only will Church allow Jacksonville more coverage options, he also gives the secondary veteran leadership to help guide the young unit throughout the season.