Next up in our post-draft Q&A series is Shaquille Quarterman out of Miami (FL.), the rookie linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and hometown product. The Jags selected Quarterman with the team’s third pick in the fourth round (No. 140 overall).
In an effort to learn more about Quarterman and what he is bringing to the Jaguars — both on the field and off of the field — I reached out to Cam Underwood, managing editor for State Of The U. Of course, State of the U is your destination for all things Miami Hurricanes.
1. Quarterman is actually from Jacksonville (Orange Park). How special do you think it is for him to get drafted to his hometown team, and what does he bring to the Jaguars from an on-the-field standpoint?
Cam: I think being drafted to your hometown team is always a special thing. So few players are drafted in total, but to be drafted and to go HOME with that pick is just special.
As far as what Quarterman brings on the field, he’s a tough, physical run-stopping linebacker. He’s incredibly savvy on the field — he was calling the defenses from his MIKE position as a true freshman — and will get players in the right alignment on defense. Quarterman is best playing downhill against the run for sure. He’s not the most athletic guy so speed can challenge him sometimes. But even in space, he’s adept at getting guys on the ground. Quarterman can, and has, struggled in pass coverage, however. He can be decent in that phase, but even one false step or minor hesitation can have him beaten on a given play.
2. What aspects of his game does Quarterman need to work on in order to have a successful professional career?
Cam: Athleticism and pass coverage. I know, the first one is hard (how much faster/more athletic will a guy get?) but the second is possible, to a point. I know some Canes fans disagree with me on this, but Quarterman is at a severe disadvantage in pass coverage. And moving up to the NFL where every skill player is at the top end of what he faced in college, that will be an area he’ll need to shore up.
3. The Jaguars targeted high-character players in the 2020 NFL Draft. As a four-year starter and team leader at Miami (FL.), what does Quarterman offer in this regard?
Cam: If you look up “high character” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Shaq Quarterman next to the definition. He was a model student, athlete, and leader at Miami for his entire career here. And, that stretches back to his time in high school as well. There was never even a hint of a rumor regarding Quarterman with anything that could be considered negative. He twice represented Miami at ACC Media Days, a testament to his presence and ability to represent the program and University well. You’d be hard pressed to find a more polished, poised player with integrity, leadership, and performance such as Shaq Quarterman.
4. Quarterman was the definition of durability during his college career, having never missed a start. This is something that probably stood out to the Jaguars who have dealt with significant injuries over the past two seasons. Do you think this was mostly due to luck, a product of Miami’s strength and conditioning coaches, Quarterman’s personal workout regimen or all of the above? And while, of course, injuries are impossible to predict, would you expect Quarterman to continue this ironman streak into his NFL career?
Cam: Any ironman streak such as Quarterman’s — which saw him start a Miami record 52 games, each one of his four-year college career — is a combination of physical strength, continuous strength and flexibility training, proper nutrition, and luck. All of those things combined to allow Quarterman to be on the field for every game Miami played during his entire collegiate career, as a starter no less. That’s really impressive.
Injuries are tough to predict, but based upon his career from high school to college, Shaq Quarterman will probably be available for each week. Sure, some random malady could keep him off the field, but those will likely be few and far between.
5. Do you see Quarterman as a future NFL starter, solid backup, special teamer, etc., and why? Is there a current NFL linebacker you would compare him to?
Cam: I think Quarterman’s ceiling is as a solid two-down run stopping linebacker in a 3-4 scheme (Editor’s Note: which is the defensibe alignment the Jaguars may be moving toward). Pair that with solid play on specials — coverage and return units — and he can have value in the NFL. He’s definitely not a three-down, do-it-all player at this position, so to be a solid backup or better, he’ll need to really maximize his performance in the areas of his strength. Because he won’t be on the field much in passing situations — clearly the part of the game he struggles most with — so that’s not a value add to his contribution to the team. So let’s call “solid backup/special teamer” the projection. That sounds right.
6. Anything else we should know about Quarterman?
Cam: I mean, if we want to talk stats for a second, Shaq Quarterman was twice named first-team All-ACC, once named second-team All-ACC, and once named third-team All-ACC. He was a freshman All-American in 2016. He had 356 tackles, 46.5 tackle for loss, 13 sacks, one interception, 14 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries in his college career. No matter how you slice it, Quarterman was a top-tier college player, and he has the skills to be a positive addition to an NFL roster in the right role moving forward. And, he’s a Hurricane. Guys like Allen Hurns and Calais Campbell, both from The U, had very good stints in Jacksonville. So here’s hoping Quarterman is the next one on that list.
A sincere thank you to Cam for providing in-depth thoughts and analysis on Jacksonville’s new inside linebacker, and giving us a glimpse into what he brings to the field and locker room. Follow Cam on Twitter, and for your Hurricanes fans out there, be sure to follow State of the U as well.