Marcus Stroud studied Baltimore Ravens defensive tackles Tony Siragusa and John Adams on tape and Stroud saw what he was drafted to be.
"I saw two mammoth guys who can stop the run and disrupt it. They stuff holes and they move pretty well," Stroud said of the Ravens stars.
Siragusa and Adams are giants of the game who came into prominence last season as unmovable objects who allowed middle linebacker Ray Lewis to emerge as professional football's overwhelmingly dominant player. All of a sudden, it was "cool" to have an overweight plug in the middle of your defensive line, and the AFC Central Division followed their champion's lead.
Cleveland drafted 320-pound Gerard Warren, the Jaguars selected the 6-6, 320-pound Stroud, and Pittsburgh followed a few picks later in the first round by making short, squat, 315-pound Casey Hampton their nose tackle of the future.
"They do the same thing I want to do. I want Hardy (Nickerson) to run free like they make Ray (Lewis) run free," Stroud said of the demand for nose tackles to keep blockers off the middle linebacker.
Stroud is a pleasant and easy-going personality in a body of frightening mass. His athletic skills exceed those of Siragusa and Adams, but the two Ravens defensive tackles do something Stroud dreams of being able to do: Siragusa and Adams stay low as they fire out of their stance.
"It's hard. I'm 6-6 and it's hard to get under a shorter guy," Stroud said of the major weakness in his game. He plays too high. It was the rap on him coming out of Georgia.
"Except for the one bad game I had against Seattle, I feel I've been doing relatively well. I'm holding up against the run," he added.
This Sunday, when the Jaguars have the ball, Stroud will stand along the sideline and watch the game's most publicized defensive tackle duo ply their craft. He'll watch and know he was drafted to do as they do, but he also knows he doesn't share their physique.
"I'm not either one of those guys. I'm a little lighter than those guys. I think I can run a little more than they do. I chase the ball. I don't want to be known as the guy coach Coughlin brought in to stop the run. I want to be able to do it all," Stroud said. "Once I develop my game, I feel I have a chance to do it all."