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Meyer: "Defensive line will be solidified…"

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) rushes the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE – If quarterback is first, defensive line isn't far behind.

Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer made that clear Tuesday when discussing offseason priorities, saying No. 1 "is making sure we have the quarterback room exactly the way we want it." He then quickly moved to defense.

He specially moved to the defensive front.

"I always believe you build your team around the defensive line, and then you move backwards – so that's what we're going to do," Meyer said.

Meyer discussed multiple issues with media in a Tuesday videoconference, focusing several minutes on discussing the Jaguars' roster in detail. He said the Jaguars' defense, which ranked 31st last season, "really struggled in a lot of areas."

"The defensive line will be solidified first, then we'll move to the back of the defense," Meyer said. "Our defensive secondary needs to be revamped at a few spots."

Meyer said he didn't want to specifically discuss many names but praised third-year defensive end Josh Allen and second-year nose tackle DaVon Hamilton – the latter of whom he coached at Ohio State. He extensively discussed Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie before missing nine games last season with a knee injury.

"We have a lot of work to do, but there are some great young pieces," Meyer said. "Josh Allen … his first year was a little better than last year, but as far as a person … I met his family. I want that guy around here as long as we can have him."

Meyer said he is less familiar with the rest of the line.

"There is one commonality of great teams: they have great defensive lines," Meyer said. "You can't avoid that. There are ways to hide other things, but you have to have a strong defensive line. We're committed to do that here."

Meyer also discussed cornerback CJ Henderson, the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft who played just eight games because of injuries as a rookie. Meyer said Henderson underwent successful labrum surgery and is rehabilitating at TIAA Bank Field.

"My gosh, is he talented," Meyer said. "He's an integral part of this. We're counting on him."

When discussing the rest of the offense, Meyer said the Jaguars feel good about rookie running back James Robinson – and said the team wants to "build a room" around the player who rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie free agent in 2020. He said tight end "is a room that will have to be rebuilt in some ways."

Meyer also specified that while the Jaguars "have some really good receivers, we're not done with that room, however."

"If you've covered our teams over the years, the need for speed … the big-play opportunity was not with the Jaguars last year," Meyer said. "We're searching for the big-play hit at the receiver position."


Meyer on Tuesday also discussed Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who many analysts believe will be the No. 1 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft. Meyer, as he has done several times, discussed attending Lawrence's Pro Day in February and reiterated that Lawrence more than met the high expectations Meyer and Jaguars coached had entering that day. "I thought he did great," Meyer said. "We've had a couple of Zoom calls with him, and he has been great. We like where we're at with him." Meyer said he and the staff have reviewed the Jaguars' playbook with Lawrence, adding that they have done so with players at multiple positions in the draft – as well as other quarterbacks aside from Lawrence. "You are allowed to do that," Meyer said. "You sit in those meetings and you learn a lot. Yes, we have done that. That's essential, to find out the starting point of the football acumen – and then how are they at learning. There's only one way."

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