Yannick Ngakoue is coming off a superb rookie campaign in which he registered 8 sacks and consistently put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. With the additions on defense while having a year under his belt he should be ready to take another step in 2017.
Yannick Ngakoue is the Key to the Jacksonville Jaguars Defense
The Jaguars have lacked a consistent edge rush threat for over a decade. They are hoping that Ngakoue can change that and build on a very impressive rookie year that not many quite expected. A little less than a year ago there was a large amount of buzz for a young defensive end in Jacksonville but that wasn’t Yannick Ngakoue, but instead Dante Fowler. As the season got going, it became more and more evident that the rookie third round pick was much farther along as far as pass rushing goes compared to Fowler, the former high first round selection out of the University of Florida in 2015.
The Jaguars have talent riddled all over the defense. You look at the defensive line and you have guys like Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson. The linebacker group includes Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, and a young but promising Myles Jack. Finally, you look at the secondary and have a budding star in Jalen Ramsey to go along with their key free agent addition in AJ Bouye who form arguably the best duo in the NFL, although the Broncos and Giants may have something to say about that. The one thing that isn’t quite as certain is their edge rush.
Expecting Improvements from Ngakoue and Fowler
Even with Yannick Ngakoue’s impressive rookie season the defense last season still lacked consistent edge rush. This offseason, they did bring in Calais Campbell who figures to be a huge part of this line and help on the edge on the early downs opposite Ngakoue. Other than Campbell, the Jaguars didn’t add much as far as edge rush presence goes. They obviously are hoping for improvements from Dante Fowler, but also seem to expect Ngakoue too potentially to take the next step and finish in the double digit sacks area this season.
If this already well rounded defense can get an edge rusher with that sort of production and pressure coming off the edge this defense is going to be giving offenses fits all season. The defense already showed a lot of promise last season and continued to add potential impact defenders with Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye, and Barry Church who figure to pay dividends for this team this year.
There’s a lot of storylines this year and ultimately the success of this team is going to hinge on whether Blake Bortles improves and limits his turnovers this year or not. If the turnovers continue and the run game doesn’t improve then the Jaguars are going to have a difficult time competing in the AFC South. Defensively though, if they can get big production out of Ngakoue it could take a defense that is already quite good to an even higher level.