They vowed to improve their pass-rush. Based on mini-camp, the Jaguars will likely be true to their word.
Defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith and defensive end Larry Hart, the Jaguars' first three picks of this year's draft, flashed pass-rush ability in mini-camp the team sorely lacked last season as it sunk to the bottom of the league with a mere 14 sacks.
Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith (pictured left) expressed no draft regrets as he critiqued his rookies during an interview with jaguars.com following the conclusion of mini-camp.
"He's got tremendous short-area quickness," Smith said of Alualu, the 10th overall pick of the draft. "He's shown that he can get to the edge of the block and be disruptive."
Alualu's performance in mini-camp was eye-popping. Will he play as well when the pads go on? That would seem to be the only question remaining.
Here's the best part: It appears the Jaguars may have drafted Alualu twice.
"Everything I said about Alualu, you can say about D'Anthony," Gene Smith said of his namesake, a defensive line force hidden in Louisiana Tech's and the WAC's high-tempo offensive style of play. "Tyson probably has more speed when he separates from the block, but they're so comparable."
Alualu and Smith join last year's rookie sensation, Terrance Knighton, to give the Jaguars a nucleus for the long-term future in the center of their defense.
Hart, the team's fifth-round pick out of Central Arkansas, might become the Jaguars' pass-rusher of the future.
"He will get sacks for us as a sub rusher," Smith said of Hart, who will be used as a pass-rush specialist on passing downs. "He will give Eugene (Monroe) and Eben (Britton) the look of Mathis and Freeney, the benchmark of our division, every day in practice."
The Jaguars' second pick in the fifth round, defensive end Austen Lane, sustained a hamstring injury early in mini-camp and sat out Sunday's and Monday's practices.
"He plays up-tempo. He's hard-charging and plays the game downhill," Smith said of Lane.
Sixth-round picks Deji Karim and Scotty McGee close out the draft. Karim is a thickly-built running back with 4.37 speed and a 43-inch vertical jump "that translates to the field" in the form of explosiveness, Smith said. McGee is a lights-out kick-returner.
"The one thing you see is instant acceleration. He has good hands and he does show signs that he could be our specialty back," Smith said of Karim.
"We hope (McGee) takes that (punt-returner) spot. I think he's natural fielding the ball," Smith added.
Four undrafted players were big hits and became immediate contenders to make the team's 53-man roster: offensive tackles Kevin Haslam of Rutgers and Daniel Baldridge of Marshall, defensive tackle Kommonyan Quaye of South Dakota and safety Terrell Whitehead of Norfolk State.
Undrafted quarterback Trevor Harris of Edinboro had a strong practice on Monday morning and appears to have shown enough talent to remain a developmental candidate. David Garrard and Luke McCown are the only other quarterbacks on the roster.
"It's not arm strength, it's the brain," Smith said of what he looks for in a quarterback. "You've got to have leadership. You've got to have poise, pocket presence. Those are the things you need in a quarterback."
Harris is thought to possess those traits.