Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media about the future of the team on Tuesday at the 2020 NFL Combine. A frequent topic was fourth-year linebacker Myles Jack and the linebacker position in general. Because of Telvin Smith’s absence from the team, Jack had to move to the MIKE position. It came with bumps and bruises, as Jack finished 66 tackles in an injury-shortened season, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2016. His regression and injury, paired with the loss of Smith, was a huge factor in a defense that ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed per game, and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game. When Doug Marrone took to the podium today, he gave an update on Jack’s health and estimated time he’ll be back. “I think when we look at Myles, first of all, he is doing really well, he is rehabbing well, and we are excited. He will be back sometime in mid-March.”
Caldwell spoke at length about the need to address the linebacker position, and if the Jaguars will do that this offseason. “I think we’ll address not only that position but I think we’ll address every position and if it’s not through free agency it’s through the draft, and if we can get better we’ll try to get better,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell then went on to highlight players among that linebacker group like Jack, rookie LB Quincy Williams, and second year LBs Dakota Allen and Leon Jacobs. “We have two guys that we like with Myles and Quincy, So we actually have four guys there plus Leon Jacobs as our SAM, so we have some depth there that we haven’t had in the past but if we can get a guy to come in and if we need to move Myles because Myles offers you so much flexibility whether it’s MIKE, WILL, he played SAM in ‘17 — we feel good about that.”
Caldwell spoke more in detail about what he saw in Williams and Allen specifically.
On Allen: “Dakota Allen is another guy that we have there that we feel like could come in that we got from the Rams late in the year, but he’s a physical guy, did a nice job in special teams.”
On Williams: “Quincy obviously from a mismatch standpoint from a game-planning standpoint, Quincy can do a lot on third down whether it’s blitzing him, covering a back, covering a tight end, the guy played basically safety in college.”
Marrone said Jack is “super talented,” and spoke about how Jack has been “a leader on that side of the football.” Although Marrone cited the ability for Jack to play multiple positions, Marrone wants Jack to be more comfortable. “Obviously he is a guy that is super talented, has played multiple positions for us already, and getting him comfortable is really what my main goal is, and putting him in a spot where he can go and play and maybe not have to worry about a lot of other people.”
Both Marrone and Caldwell both talked about doing what’s best for both Jack and the team. The linebacker class in free agency is scarce, with the Rams Corey Littleton, Joe Schobert from the Browns, and Danny Trevathan from the Bears headlining the group. In contrast, the upcoming linebacker draft class is stocked with talent, with Jacksonville being linked to Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, but Patrick Queen from LSU and Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma are both very talented, and would fill a need for the Jaguars in the middle of the defense. Late round prospects who can shore up the middle of that defense are David Woodward from Utah State, Shaquille Quarterman from Miami, and Evan Weaver from California.
Regardless, the Jaguars have a lot of versatile players that will factor in to how they address the position this offseason, but their choices in free agency and the draft seem to hinge on a rebound from Myles Jack.