The Jacksonville Jaguars select Florida outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. with the third pick of the 2015 NFL draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Florida outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. with the third pick of the 2015 NFL draft. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks led the Jags with 8.5 sacks in 2014, and there was a clear need for head coach Gus Bradley to get his hands on a legitimate edge rusher.
Fowler certainly qualifies—at 6'3" and 261 pounds, Fowler has surprising speed off the edge and the additional ability to get pressure from just about every gap. He played everywhere from outside linebacker to end to nose tackle for the Gators, and he's very tough to block from just about everywhere. Bradley loves to move his pass rushers around, and Fowler, who amassed 8.5 sacks and 60 tackles last season, will be a real force in a defense that has been quietly improving over the past two seasons.
Strengths: Played all over Florida's front seven, most often at the "buck" linebacker position. Athleticism would make him an asset for any defensive scheme, but he also has the size—and has been successful enough against the run—to have a chance as a 4–3 edge-setter, if the opportunity arises. Ideal fit probably would be as a 3–4 OLB, where his quickness would play best. Even moved inside at times for Florida, pass-rushing from a DT alignment. Has rushed out of both two- and three-point stances. Able to make life difficult for taller OTs because he plays low to the ground, ducking his shoulder to charge the backfield. Hands stay engaged in front of him. Wears down opponents by never letting his foot off the gas. Likeable guy who should transition well into an NFL locker room. —CB
Weaknesses: Relies on his speed and motor to an extreme extent right now, so will need to continue developing a counter-move arsenal. First step is good, not always great. While his size frequently works to his benefit, can be swarmed by physical blockers, especially in the run game. Effort to get around blocks can be borderline frantic—slowing down at times might work to his benefit. That's particularly true on misdirections, as Fowler will overpursue. Tough to project him as a full-time 4–3 guy because of the size limitations. Only decent in coverage, although he was asked to take on those responsibilities within Florida's scheme. —CB
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