Among the positions that need upgrading most on the Jaguars defense is clearly the linebacker spot. The underacheiving Jaguars LB corps of last year doesn't look like it's any position to get better in 2011 with no linebackers added in the draft last month. Additionally, two of the three starters are scheduled to hit free agency in the summer with only Daryl Smith with years remaining on his contract.
It would be shocking if the Jaguars entered the 2011 season without having added at least one starting quality linebacker to their defense. Among the potential candidates to fill that void is the soon-to-be 28 year old (his birthday is in three days) Barrett Ruud.
Ruud isn't exactly the most popular player in Tampa Bay. While he isn't exactly hated by Buccaneers fans, he was summarized in one article with the statement, "you have no idea how mediocre Barrett Ruud is." Not exactly the thing that fans of the Jaguars, the team dubbed as the mediocre team of the decade by one blog, want to hear.
I cruised around BucStop, Bloguin's site for the Buccaneers, to see their feelings about the 2005 2nd round pick. Here are some notable quotes:
"Barrett Ruud is perfect at Mike in the Tampa Two, as its obvious from last year he is NOT in any other system."
"After the Pittsburgh game, Dan Sileo simply crucified No. 51 with the way Ladell Betts trucked over him."
"Yes, Ruud is a productive tackler. But many of his stops come too far downfield. And when the Bucs need a thumper who can blow up a lead-block and make a tone-setting play, Ruud is often nowhere to be found."
"The biggest reason Barrett Ruud makes tackles downfield is because he cannot shed blockers. Ruud is a very good linebacker, but he's out of position. He should be playing more Weak Side linebacker due to his size, but that is occupied by Geno Hayes who himself is giving the Bucs fits with his inconsistencies. Expect the Bucs to beef up linebacker, the Bucs cannot afford to have their middle linebacker get run over my middle sized running backs like Chris Ivory did on Sunday."
Similar to Kirk Morrison in Oakland, Barrett Ruud has racked up tackles and led his team over the last four seasons with over 500 tackles during that span. Also similar to Morrison, he's done so in a way that has left fans less than satisfied due to the fact that so many of the tackles have come too far downfield.
While the Jaguars are definitely in the market to replace Morrison and Justin Durant, I'm not sure they would do so by signing a player with such similar athleticism and play as Morrison.