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2008 Jacksonville Jaguars Signing: Linebacker Lamar Myles

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The Jacksonville Jaguars are a popular team for undrafted free-agents because they have a good habit finding starters in the ranks of the "undraftable". Jack Del Rio fosters an environment of competition in his off-season that allows for players that might lack the draft credentials to have a fair and reasonable shot at making the roster. Remember, the undrafted free agent is playing for his NFL career, just getting a shot to be on the practice squad will increase the chance that a player proves himself to a team and continue to live the dream of playing on Sundays.

In Jacksonville, there's a realistic shot of not only going to the practice squad, but to make the final roster and make an impact. To be fair, the Jaguars roster is pretty stacked to begin with this year, but with the lack of draft picks due to the Derrick Harvey/Quentin Groves moves, there is just enough wiggle room to allow a hard working and determined UDFA to make an impact and be on the final roster.

One sure fire way to make a roster is for a player to prove he can fill multiple roles, especially special teams, but also in positions on the field. An offensive lineman who can play guard and tackle might make the roster when a better player that is less useful visits the turk.

One undrafted free agent signing that should prove himself to be a valuable member of the 2008 Jaguars is Louisville linebacker Lamar Myles. His agent was kind enough to pass along some questions for Myles for Big Cat Country, so let's take a closer look at the player and where he might fit in the Jaguars system.

Introduction

Lamar Myles, the son of Susan and Leon Wilson, grew up and currently lives in Winter Haven Florida and graduated from Lake Region High School. Myles began his football career playing both linebacker and full back, accumulating 130 tackles a season and 9.0 yards per carry. He was also ranked in the top 60 Florida High School players, considering how much football talent comes out of Florida, that is a pretty high honor. He spent his first season at Louisville, 2004, as a redshirt, but found himself starting his first game against Oregon State in 2005.

Myles became the starting middle linebacker in 2006 and 2007, averaging 10.67 tackles per game. 2007 saw him register a career-high 128 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles, and had 22 tackles against Kentucky.

Notable Quotable: Part One

Thompson: You had 22 tackles in your game against Kentucky. That's just unheard of...

Myles: [laughing] That was a very, very exciting game. I remember watching film early in the summer on Kentucky, I was prepared for them and what they were going to do. And I know when the lights come on, I just have to turn it on and show what I'm about.

Lamar Myles: By the Number

Myles received a 5th round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board and declared himself eligible. Unfortunately for Lamar, the NFL Scouting Combine did not give him an invitation, so his workout numbers are from the Louisville Pro-Day. Without sounding like an apologist for UDFA's, the Draft Advisory Board does, in my opinion, a disservice to young players through their "draft grading". Particularly with potential late round players. The DAB should give first through third round grades and advise the others that they're 4-7 and to decide accordingly. It is far to difficult to make serious projections about where a player will fall between the 4th and undrafted ranks and mistakes in the advising process will lead to poor decisions about whether to stay another year or to select an agent and declare eligibility.

This is not meant to imply that Lamar Myles should have stayed at Louisville for another year, the factors that damaged his "draft stock" have nothing to do with his ability to play football, but rather his height and build.

Some things, such as height and weight, vary across sources. Myles did not attend the Scouting Combine, so the numbers I have are from the Jaguars themselves and the Louisville Pro-Day. The Jacksonville Jaguars list Myles as 5'11'' and 230 lbs, NFL Draft Scout records his Pro-Day measurements as 6'0'', 220. I'd like to think the Jaguars numbers are more accurate, unless they're messing with other teams. If linebackers come from a mold somewhere (probably in Pennsylvania), Myles is certainly out of the ordinary. He's about an inch and a half shorter than the other linebackers in the Jaguars arsenal, and with the exception of fellow rookie Thomas Williams, is between eight and eighteen pounds lighter.

His workout numbers are very strong, though for reasons that will be explained later, I will compare them to both the Outside Linebacker standards and also Safety. His 4.63 40-yard dash is great for either linebacker position, and only a hair slower than the desired 4.60 for a safety. NOTE: Because of the varied times, I've seen Myles as fast as 4.59. When in doubt, I use the NFL Draft Scout numbers. Were Myles to switch to the secondary, it'd be as a strong safety, where speed isn't as critical. Myles explosiveness is evident by a 38 inch vertical jump and 10'4'' broad jump, better than the targets for ILB, OLB, and Safety positions. His bench press of 495 pounds (one time max) and 33 reps at 225 show his devotion to the weight room and his absolute strength to size ratio.

On Leaving Early:

Lamar Myles was criticized by some as a player who should have stayed in school for another year. I disagree, unless someone can demonstrate that Louisville would have tried to add to his bulk in any significant way. Myles was outperforming his "size" already, I don't know that his coaches would have slowed him down or risked losing his outstanding skills through ill-advised weight gain. He might have gotten more experience in pass coverage, but as a Middle Linebacker in the cardinals system, it would be negligible.

In my opinion, another year of school would have pushed him into the late round of the draft, for sure, but would not have effected his perceptions as "small". Frankly, the fact that Lamar was an UDFA might give him a little more flexibility in finding a role on a team that needs a linebacker project rather than slotting him on a team that can't really use him. While I'm sure it stung to not be selected, Lamar may look back on being "passed over" as a blessing in disguise.

A few questions with Lamar Myles:

First, a big thank you to Nate at PlayersRep for passing these questions to Lamar!

On the Draft Process:

"It was a long process but I met a lot of good people who helped me along the way. I was surprised when I didn't get the Combine invite, especially since I was given a draft grade by the Committee in December. But overall, it was a good learning experience. Although I wasn't drafted I'm glad to be back in my home state. Plus it motivates me to go out there and prove people wrong."

On Preparing for the Draft/Training

"I trained with Cliff Marshall and those guys in Cincinnati at Ignition. I give them a lot of credit. They prepared me both mentally and physically for my pro day. I now know what I need to do to keep my body in NFL shape"

On his style of play:

"People have always questioned my siz, but I pay a lot bigger on the field. I'm fast. I'm strong. I love to hit people. I know I can play any linebacker position in Jacksonville's 4-3 cover two. I also can convert to Strong Safety, if need be."

On his expectations and hopes:

"Man, I'm just gonna go out there and do my thing. The fact I was passed up 252 times really adds fuel to my fire. I know that if I go out there and do waht I'm capable of doing I'll be able to help this team compete. I'm excited to be a Jag."

Scouting Reports:

Positives:

  • NFL Draft Scout : Undersized, but has a compact frame with good upper-body muscle tone, a V-shaped torso, good bubble, tight waist and developed thighs and calves...Could trim down and use his range and quickness at the strong safety position, showing the loose hips and depth in his pass drop to handle receivers in the zone...Best athlete on the team and a hard worker in the weight room, displaying true aggression and a competitive nature on the field...Shows good vision and reacts quickly in run support, using a strong hand swipe and arm extension to keep blockers off his feet...For a player his size, he possesses above-average strength and leverage...Despite giving up considerable bulk to offensive linemen, he is a slippery athlete with good avoidance skills on the move, but will also not shy away from one-on-one confrontations...Has good balance and body control flowing to the perimeter to impact outside running plays and is quick to locate and track down the ball through trash...Decisive closing once he locates the ball, as he shows that he can accelerate quickly to the run alleys and good instincts zeroing in on the ball...Has loose hips in his stop-and-go motion with good quick-twitch movements and body lean coming around the corner as an edge rusher...
  • NFL Draft Countdown : Very athletic...Good speed...Strong...Good tackler...Physical and will deliver the big hit...Excellent range and really covers a lot of ground...Has a non-stop motor..Very good instincts and awareness...More than holds his own in coverage...Productive.

Negitives

  • NFL Draft Countdown :Vastly undersized...Has trouble taking on and shedding blockers...Too aggressive at times...Does not play to his weight room numbers...Just a marginal pass rusher & blitzer...Limited experience..'Tweener who may have to make a position change.
  • NFL Draft Scout : Has good range, but needs to refine his technique in deep coverage, as he gets turned around some on head fakes...Lacks crispness in his plant and drive, tending to cross his feet when switching off in the zone...Will get engulfed by larger blockers trying to get through trash...Limited size and bulk could lead to a shift to strong safety at the pro level...Frame might be at maximum growth potential and additional bulk will likely affect his timed speed...Gets overmatched at the point of attack and must rely on rip moves in order to elude, as he has had problems when trying to disengage when the larger blockers lock on to him...Has good range, but tends to leave his feet at times when making tackles, causing him to slip off the opponent...Best when making plays in front of him and, while he has loose hips, he will take false steps at times in transition and does not have the recovery burst to get back on his man when the receiver gets behind him...Has good avoidance skills, but lacks the lower-leg drive to power through double teams.

Why should he be on the Final Roster?

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I like Lamar Myles prospects at being an NFL linebacker better than our 5th round pick Thomas Williams. Not to knock Williams, but I like the attitude and approach of Myles over the "not quite good enough to be a starter at USC" of Williams. I understand that the 4th best linebacker at USC is probably good enough to start anywhere, but in my research and observation, I like the quality of player that the Jaguars found in Myles.

Lamar is a hard working, hard-nosed, and fast linebacker who will find a role on special teams and work his way onto the roster. He's been slighted a bit in not being drafted, I think that will light a fire underneath him and you'll see him making statements at mini-camp. He wraps up on his tackles, he can drop into the zone, he'll get in receivers faces, and he can adjust to the ball in flight.

If nothing else, Myles could find himself outside of the linebacker crowd and instead transition into playing Strong Safety, a position of notable weakness for the Jaguars. He won't be an interception machine, but he's got the right mix of quickness and toughness to be a nasty strong safety. This is where being an UDFA is to Lamar's advantage. Drafting a player and then changing his position is often a "waste" of a draft pick, doing so with an UDFA is smart roster management.

The crowd is deep in Jacksonville as a linebacker. Lamar's best shot would be to establish himself as a gunner on special teams and show promise at strong safety. I don't see him playing Middle Linebacker anytime soon, even though I've argued that his size shouldn't hurt him in the NFL, he's better suited on the outside.

Without a doubt it will be an uphill battle for Lamar Myles to make the team, but I see in him the potential for a solid well-rounded player that could find a niche at strong safety.

Your thoughts?