2018 IDP Projections: Jacksonville Jaguars

Tom Kislingbury

As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.

The Jaguars came from nowhere to be an utterly dominant defense in 2017. They had the most fearsome group of pass rushers in the league and week after week put up powerful performances that took them just one game from the Super Bowl.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is – the only way is down. The defense last year was so good that it’s implausible it stays at that level. One of the major factors of fielding a great defense is avoiding injury. In 2017 the Jags were virtually injury-free. Telvin Smith missed a couple of games but that was about it. That’s not likely to happen again.

I loved watching the Jags as much as anyone else last year but it seems implausible to expect the same.

Defensive tackle

word image 86

Malik Jackson had his best statistical season in 2017, like many Jaguars. He’s a great example of one of the players likely to regress a little in 2018. That doesn’t mean he’ll be bad – it’s just hard to be unusually good – by definition. He’s a good tackle to own but not quite in that elite tier at the position, which makes him expendable.

There was a lot of chatter about Marcell Dareus last season but he’s a trap in IDP terms. He played 281 snaps in nine games after being traded by the Bills and in that time recorded just 18 solos tackles and a solitary sack. As you’d expect from a nose tackle, he is not a productive player.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Defensive end

word image 87

Between 2012 and 2016, Calais Campbell averaged 7.25 sacks per season. In 2018, he shot up to 14.5. There were positive factors involved – in that he moved to a pure edge position and was surrounded by other elite players – but it’s still tough to believe that he can stay at that level given his age and history. He’ll be 32 this season and has had heavy usage. Getting anywhere close to double-digit sacks would be a triumph.

Yannick Ngakoue is about as different from Campbell as an edge rusher can get. He now has 20 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL without touching 800 snaps in a year. He’s clearly an extremely talented player but efficiency can easily fall off. Ezekiel Ansah is a good example – he put up great numbers until suddenly (in 2016) he didn’t. Ngakoue could easily have another good year but he’s not a full-time player at this stage.

And lastly, Dante Fowler Jr. looks to be playing for a new contract somewhere. His eight 2017 sacks came from just 465 defensive snaps – that’s absurdly efficient. His playing time could easily go up this year but it’s unlikely.

Inside linebacker

word image 88

IDP hero Paul Posluszny has finally ridden off into the sunset which leaves the road clear for Telvin Smith and Myles Jack. As a pair, their lack of size is a little worrying but they’re clearly both top athletes.

Last season, Jack lined up as the Sam in base sets for much of the season, which hurt his efficiency. Now he won’t have to do that, he should be much more effective in his time on the field. He should be better than 2017 and is worth trying to trade for. Smith will retain his value as a top LB with elite upside over the season.


word image 89

A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey were the best pair of outside corners in football in 2017 and, fitness-permitting, should be again in 2018. They’re both useful options in leagues that reward passes defended but avoid them in tackle-heavy scoring. They’ll almost certainly be overvalued by someone and that shouldn’t be you. If either of those two do happen to pick up an injury, the depth is fairly thin and the replacement will be a likely target-magnet.


word image 90

Barry Church is one of the most undervalued IDP players around at the moment. Maybe people are thinking that third-round pick Ronnie Harrison will instantly come in and take the job. That seems unlikely although it could easily be in play in a year’s time. He’ll be 31 in February and the Jags can cut him or pay him $6m next season.

Behind Church, Tashaun Gipson is the free safety. He’s not likely to be very efficient at all and shouldn’t be on your roster.


Telvin Smith. Smith is a top-five linebacker and has been for years. He’s only just turned 27 and has plenty left in the tank. He’s about as sure a thing as you can get in IDP.


All three pass rushers. I explained this above but basically, things went about as well as could be imagined for all three of the ends in 2017. It’ll be surprising if any of them manage to outproduce 2017 numbers.

Dark horse

Barry Church. Church has regularly been slipping in start-ups all off-season. He’s been falling way into the second tier of safeties taken and often even further. He had a bad year last season compared to previous production from Todd Wash’s system but that’s at least partly connected to the excellence across the whole defense. Church managed a tackle efficiency of around 7% in 2017, where 10.5-11% is more normal for this role. Just ten more solo tackles would boost him up into the top eight for the position which seems eminently feasible. He should rebound nicely in 2018.


Overall, this is a pessimistic view for the team but there are still superstar individual defenders here. The edge rushers might drop off a bit but they could still be extremely useful IDPs, and the linebackers are a brilliant partnership on paper.

Thanks for reading.


tom kislingbury