With rookie mini-camps beginning for all three state NFL teams on Friday, it was intriguing to see all of their number one picks out on the field in their new colors and jerseys. And, in the case of two of them, they’ve had to go to a different number than what they wore in college.
First, Jaguars #7 overall pick, Edge rusher Josh Allen of Kentucky, will get to keep his number 41 for 2019. The man who led the SEC in sacks in 2018 was doing so in a bit of an odd number, as that is usually reserved for safeties or even running backs.
Still, here was a quick glimpse of Allen in that number making his way out to the Jags rookie camp practice Friday at TIAA Bank field:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 10, 2019
Allen is expected to complement Yannick ngakoue and coleus Campbell along the Jaguar defensive front.
Meanwhile in Tampa, the 5th overall pick, LSU linebacker Devin White made his first appearance on the Buccaneers practice facility field. And he did so sporting a brand new number 45 Jersey instead of his purple and gold LSU “40” that he wore the last three seasons.
Any fan of the Buccaneers knows that the number 40 belongs to one of the most popular players in franchise history in the “A train,” Mike Alstott. The Buccaneers bulldozing fullback holds the team record for rushing touchdowns and was one of the more iconic short-yardage rushers of the last 40 years in the NFL.
White told the media today after the practice that he respects and understands why the Buccaneers number 40 belongs to Alstott:
“The minute I put my cleats on and walked out to this field, it was like heaven. I was so happy, I was loud, I was running around trying to bring energy to the guys."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) May 10, 2019
Interestingly also, White’s number is the reversal of the other Buccaneers inside linebacker and former Pro bowler, Lavonte David, who wears number 54. David will be mentoring White in the middle of a brand new defense being installed by Todd Bowles.
Finally, in South Florida, when Dolphins number one pick Christian Wilkins stepped out onto the field in Davie for rookie mini-camp today, he did so sporting number 97.
Rookie minicamp day 1️⃣
Let’s get it‼️ pic.twitter.com/X9VOsTtlzE
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 10, 2019
Wilkins ,who wore number 42 throughout his career as a defensive lineman at Clemson went with a more appropriate number for a guy who’s going to play “in the trenches” in the pros.
Wilkins definitely has a championship pedigree having won the title last season with his teammates in their blowout win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game. And, whether he’s wearing 42, 97 or 00, the Dolphins and coach Brian Flores are hoping that he will become a force in the middle of their defense for years to come.
An interesting tidbit on Wilkins choosing 97 is that the first ever Dolphin to wear that number was John Bosa, former top pick in 1987. And as you probably know by now, his sons Joey and Nick have each been drafted in the first round by the Chargers and the 49ers, too.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?