As the NFL enters into training camp, we take a look at Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell. Standing at a towering 6’8” and 300 pounds, the well-respected Jaguar is now in his second season with the team. Based on the Jaguars’ performance last season, many NFL analyst pick the Jags to make it to the Super Bowl. That’s high praise for a team that has struggle to reach .500 football over the last decade. During those ten years, the Jags have enjoyed the luxury of having a top 5 draft pick in the first round. Critics believe that the Jaguars brought in Campbell as a “stop-gap” player that would provide leadership to those young picks while helping to increase their development.  He added that and more.

When Calais Campbell signed with the Jaguars during last year’s free agency, many wondered if the perineal Pro Bowler would be a good fit for the Jaguars. He was an instant upgrade at the defensive end position and a terror to opposing quarterbacks.  The statistics he registered (breaking the team season sacks record with 14.5) garnered him another Pro Bowl and All Pro selections. His first game versus the Houston Texas, he had monster game. He registered 4 sacks and sparked an onslaught as the team racked up 10 sacks (team record) in the blowout win over their arch rivals.  That game was the catalyst of a winning season for the Jags as they made it all the way to the AFC Championship game were they lost to the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. While the lost still stings, Campbell and the Jags are now looking to use that momentum in this year’s season, starting in free agency and the NFL Draft.

During this year’s free agency, the Jaguars did lose some players, particularly on the offensive side. They were able to address some key positions with players like Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE), Donte Moncrief (WR) and landing Taven Bryan (DT/DE), a freakish athlete, in the 2018 NFL Draft. Bryan (6’5” and 291lbs) has great explosion and looks to be Campbell’s predecessor. It was a great pick by management as the first round draft pick will keep Campbell fresh by taking some snaps during games. “We like to start fast. You can’t wait to get into a rhythm. You want to come out right away. So, every defensive lineman has that type of mentality. If I’m only getting 10 reps, all 10 should be quality reps,” Calais said to the Jacksonville media when ask if he will be affected by the defensive line rotation. In fact, the Jaguars defensive line remains intact with Pro Bowlers Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Marcel Darius and promising Dante Fowler Jr. all returning. Arguably, the Jaguars has the best defensive line unit in the NFL (including starters and depth).

The Jaguars also boast the best cornerback tandem in the league with All Pro and Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey and Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye.  Their play allows extra seconds for Campbell and the rest of the defensive linemen to get home to the quarterback. This season the stout defensive line is poised to put up record breaking sack numbers, quarterback pressures and force fumbles. If Campbell is able to duplicate the same statistical feat from last season, he should strongly be considered for Defensive Player of the Year. If Calais Campbell is able to get DPOY, the Jaguars will most likely be playing in the Super Bowl as analyst predicted.

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images