Todd Wash has found his first Leo.
And to hear Wash tell it on Tuesday afternoon, that means Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin may have a new name, one the two-time Pro Bowl selection likely won't mind a bit.
Wash, the Jaguars' new defensive line coach, said on Tuesday that Babin – acquired off waivers by the Jaguars late last season after Pro Bowl seasons in 2010 and 2011 – still possesses the skills to be an effective pass rusher.
He also said that makes Babin an obvious candidate to play the "Leo" position, a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role critical enough to the team's new scheme that Wash said two or three are actually needed.
"I think we've got one," Wash said Tuesday during a media availability at Everbank Field featuring Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and several assistant coaches.
"Now, we'll see if we can find another two."
Babin registered two sacks in the final four games for the Jaguars after being acquired off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. He had made the Pro Bowl for Tennessee in 2010 and for Philadelphia in 2011.
"It's no different than what he was doing in Philly," Wash said of the Leo role. "He's got the skill set to still do it."
Wash, the Seattle Seahawks' defensive line coach the past two seasons, said the primary Leo is often the only pure pass rusher on the field on first- and second downs, which is what makes him so critical to the defense. In more obvious pass-rushing situations, the second and third "Leos" enter the game.
Wash said possibilities for the other two Leos include John Chick, a restricted free agent, and Andre Branch, a second-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft who registered one sack as a rookie.
Wash said he likes Branch's length and first-step quickness, particularly when rushing from the interior of the line.
"He has to use a little bit more power on the outside," Wash said. "His length allows him to really be a threat on some of these offensive tackles. It's his first year out and it takes a while for these defensive ends to transition from college to pro. A lot of times it takes two or three years.
"He has the skill set to be a guy that can be an impact player."
The Jaguars registered a league-low 20 sacks this past season.
"You have to be able to affect the quarterback in this league," Wash said. "It's not so much you have to have sacks but you have to be able to get him off the spot. You have to move him. You have to make sure he has to go through his reads quick. It's not just sacks, but you have to be able to affect the quarterback somehow."
Also on Tuesday:
*Wash said he is optimistic defensive tackle Tyson Alualu can be effective in the team's defensive scheme, which is expected to be mostly a 4-3 front this season. "Tyson is a very solid football player," Wash said. "He can affect the quarterback. You are only going to see more and more out of that from Tyson, which is the reason they drafted him so high. We are very excited about him." Wash said Alualu appeared to play better as he got healthier this past season. He had undergone microfracture surgery the previous January.
*Wash also said he believes defensive tackle Terrance Knighton can be effective in the new system. "There is no doubt," Wash said. Knighton, a third-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, is scheduled to become a free agent March 12.
*Offensive line coach George Yarno said while much has been made in recent days about the team's use of a zone-blocking technique, most NFL teams use the system to some extent. "Every team in the NFL does a zone scheme of some kind," he said. "We'll probably do just a little bit more than the average team does."
*Yarno said he wasn't yet sure about the team's plans for center Brad Meester or offensive guard Eben Britton. Each player is scheduled to become a free agent March 12.
*Running backs coach Terry Richardson said there is a need for a fullback in the team's offensive scheme. "When you want to be multiple you've got to have one," he said. "You've got to have a good fullback. I know Greg Jones is a hell of a player and a hell of a person. I think there's definitely room for a fullback." Jones is also scheduled to become a free agent March 12.