Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive end Dante Fowler hopes his third season in the NFL is the charm. While his “rookie” year was a wash because of a torn ACL, the former first round pick (3rd overall in 2015), wants to show his play last year was just the beginning.
Now that the team is void of former head coach Gus Bradley and there is a new attitude in the building at EverBank Field, could Fowler break free and show how good he can be?
In a story written by Hays Carlyon of gridironnow.com, there is precedent for Fowler to make a move toward becoming a big-time sack artist here in Jacksonville.
Houston’s J.J. Watt went from 5.5 sacks to 20.5 from 2011-12. Oakland’s Khalil Mack jumped from four to 15 in 2014-15. If that wasn’t enough, Atlanta’s Vic Beasley’s sack total increased from four to 15.5 last season. Those are three of the best in the NFL at what they do. The Jacksonville Jaguars hope Fowler can add his name to that trio and be as feared as these pass rushers are.
“I think it will happen,” Fowler said. “It was a big learning experience for me last year on and off the field. That was my first year on the field. I was like a freshman in college all over again, getting used to the guys at this level. It gave me an idea of how big and strong some of these guys are.”
During his freshman year, Fowler moved to the outside linebacker position. Fowler played in all 13 games and started his first game against Missouri. He recorded 30 tackles, including eight for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He was named to numerous freshman all-American teams. In 2013, Fowler started all 13 game for the Gators, and was named a team captain for the two final games of the season. He recorded 50 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. In 2014, he slimmed down from 277 to 261 pounds, in an effort to be a more explosive edge player for the Gators.
He recorded 60 tackles, including 15 for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and was named a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the conference’s coaches. In his final game, the 2015 Birmingham Bowl vs East Carolina, he recorded three sacks helping the Gators to the 28-20 victory.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive end did most of his damage at Florida will he was able to stand up as a pass rusher. After making the transition to the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fowler spent last season with a hand on the ground. He could team with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue to form a trio that is one of the best in the NFL. Rotating in and out of the lineup should keep Fowler fresh and could also see him play outside at linebacker in some defensive schemes.