Applying a three-point estimation technique to recent draft prospects is a method that invites as much disagreement as it does guessing. Even so, three-pointing is probably our best hope at arriving in a region of realistic expectations -- an expanse that we so often seem to lose sight of in early July.
By generating a best, worst, and most likely scenario for each of the Jaguars' drafted rookies, we should be able to construct an outline that allows us a better understanding of expectations and actualities.
Every year, the summer heat carries a warm wind of renewed optimism. A renovated Jaguars defense and a rebuilt weak-side defensive end position give fans hope that this hopefulness is not misplaced.
Defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue have never played a snap of NFL football. Hell, they've never even participated in a padded NFL practice. Even so, local media personalities have been quick to market the Jaguars' 2016 LEO group as an upgrade over the 2015 unit -- an outlook that requires one peak at last year's defense to agree with.
Yannick Ngakoue is far from a perfect prospect. Concerns about Ngakoue's run-stopping ability and lack of immediate-win sacks in college are a few of the reasons why the Jaguars were able to find him in round three of the 2016 draft. Ngakoue's potential, however, is hard to overlook.
The 6'2, 252 pound defensive end totaled 13.5 sacks in his final year at Maryland -- an impressive feat, and one that arrived directly after the Terrapins' switch to a 4-3 defense. Having spent just one year as a true defensive end, Ngakoue now has an opportunity to combine his athleticism and explosiveness with familiarity. If Ngakoue is able to develop further into a defensive end role, he'll fill a vacancy beside Dante Fowler Jr., gifting the Jaguars with the one-two punch that their pass rush so desperately needs.
Worst case scenario
As far as Ngakoue's rookie season goes, I think the worst-case scenario is quite simple: Ngakoue fails to fulfill the role that the team needs him to satisfy.
More specifically, Ngakoue's instability against the run is magnified at a higher level, leading to more time spent finding his way to the ball than making the explosive plays he was drafted for. Becoming a liability against the run would lead to a diminished role and a weakened depth chart, giving truth to the criticism that surrounded Ngakoue before the draft.
Remember -- we don't know what Fowler is capable of yet, either. A lack of immediate impact from the LEO position would leave the Jaguars in a situation that they're all too familiar with -- no edge rush.
Best case scenario
The best thing Ngakoue can do in 2016 is play himself into more playing time.
Ngakoue makes an immediate impact in sub and lightning packages, slowly working his way into earlier-down and shorter-yardage situations. As he begins to cut into Fowler's playing time, Ngakoue displays an inspired solidity against the run and an upward-trending know-how that increases week to week.
Ngakoue's explosiveness allows him to shortcut his development, gifting the Jaguars with a one-two punch at LEO that opposing coaching staffs are forced to game-plan for. The Jaguars' interior defensive line -- including new addition Malik Jackson -- is able to absolutely eat.
The Jaguars drafted Yannick Ngakoue with a well-defined role in mind. Realistically, it would be safe to assume that Ngakoue satisfies this role by the end of the season.
As a second-team rookie LEO, Ngakoue will most likely suffer through his fair share developmental hitches. But along the way, I expect he'll be able to piece together a few disruptive flashes that provide us a glimpse into the future of the Jaguars' pass rush.
If Dante Fowler Jr. struggles early in the season, it won't surprise me to hear chants of Ngakoue's name -- the pronunciation of his last name, after all, is very chant-able.
It will surprise me, however, if Ngakoue makes any kind of substantial, abrupt impact this season. The Jaguars' LEO unit is a bank of explosiveness, but void of experience.
Then again, experience didn't aid the Jaguars' defensive identity last season. Ngakoue's explosiveness might.