It was only a week ago that dreams were becoming realities in Chicago. Under the lights and watchful eyes of millions around the country, young men in Chicago were hugging their families and smiling big as their names were called by Commissioner Roger Goodell. They were now NFL players. A moment before that they had never been able to touch, but only imagine.
On Friday, achieving that dream turned into a nightmare for the Jacksonville Jaguars No. 3 overall pick, Dante Fowler Jr., who tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2015 season. Less than an hour into his first NFL minicamp and he was carted off the field, done for the year. As Mike DiRocco of ESPN puts it, the Jaguars need to prove they can handle the loss of their top draft pick.
While the Jags finished 6th in the league in sacks last year, their top edge rusher was Chris Clemons, who is on the back end of his career at 34. They do have some other younger talent on the defensive line, but Fowler was expected to be the new centerpiece. However, head coach Gus Bradley is a smart defensive coach. He earned his current job with the Jaguars after helping the Seattle Seahawks to their first of three consecutive years as the league’s top defense. He now has to piece together his defensive line without the young stud they drafted in the first round.
From a fantasy football standpoint, this hurts the Jaguars defense a lot. As a firm believer in streaming defenses throughout the year, it will take the perfect match up for me to take them, at least for now. It is still early in the offseason for the Jaguars to find help, but there are not a lot of options left out there at defensive line. They may need to resign Red Bryant on a reduced deal after releasing him in March to make cap space.
The Jaguars need to see some significant improvement from their offense so the big guys on the defensive line will not wear out halfway through the season. If Blake Bortles can get the protection he needs to get the ball to his young and talented core of receivers (who also added Julius Thomas at TE), the Jaguars will be able to sustain more drives and give their defense more of a rest.
For now, we wait to see what else the Jaguars’ front office can do to bolster their defensive line. Until then, we will be looking other places for defensive help on our fantasy football teams.