Myles Jack is headed to injured reserve, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jack has dealt with a number of injuries this season, so there’s no one known malady keeping him out of action.
Jack inked a four-year, $57MM extension with the Jaguars prior to the season, a deal that included $33MM guaranteed. Between 2017 and 2018, Jack played in 98% of Jacksonville’s snaps and notched 197 tackles.
As one of the league’s most talented linebackers, he’ll be missed on the field, even though this is a lost season for the 4-8 Jags. The 24-year-old finishes out the year with 66 tackles, one interception, and half-credit for a sack.
Prior to Week 13, Jack had not missed a game in his NFL career. Without the former second-round pick, third-year linebacker Donald Payne figures to hold down the fort at middle linebacker.
Jack hasn’t looked like his usual self this season, so he’ll look to heal up and enter 2020 at 100% health.
“Laremy has been in here all day working with Mike, working with a couple of guys, some of the veteran guys, Nick Martin, guys like that,” the coach said. “Look, at the end of the day, that’s going to be a challenge early on here because he just got here.
“But I think that he’s played a lot of football and maybe what somebody calls an apple, we call an orange. It’s just different terms, but it’s the same blocking assignment.”
Here’s more from the AFC South:
Jacoby Brissett, who recently signed a new two-year, $30MM extension, told Mike Chappell of CBS4 in Indianapolis that he negotiated the contract himself. “I don’t like people to BS on my behalf. I try to say it for myself. . . . all you can be is honest,” the Colts new starting quarterback said. “I did my rookie contract, too, so I kind of had the gist of it.’’
The Jaguars and one of their young defenders reached an extension agreement Saturday. The Jags will extend Myles Jack on a four-year, $57MM deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
One of a few impact defenders who entered camp extension-eligible, Jack will earn $33MM guaranteed on this pact. Jack joined Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue as members of the team’s standout 2016 draft class, and the team’s top linebacker became the first to see a new contract.
Jacksonville saw Telvin Smith step away earlier this offseason. It is not known if this is a retirement, but the Jags took care of his longtime running mate. This is a more lucrative deal than the one the team gave Smith (four years, $44MM), with Jack’s $14.25MM-AAV figure sitting behind only Bobby Wagner and C.J. Mosley among off-ball ‘backers. Jack’s $33MM guarantee ties him with Anthony Barr for sixth among this contingent.
Jack has been the least vocal of the Jags’ 2016 defender draftees about a re-up, with Ngakoue holding out into camp and Ramsey making no secret he believes the Jags can afford to give him top cornerback money. But this marks another win for a college superstar who entered the 2016 draft with injury-damaged stock. Both Jack and Jaylon Smith fell out of the first round because of injuries; both are now on high-end linebacker contracts.
The soon-to-be 24-year-old ‘backer has played in 98% of Jacksonville’s snaps since 2017. He’s made 197 tackles over the past two seasons, playing a key role on a defense that has been one of the league’s best in that span.
Another player who will need a new deal soon is linebacker Myles Jack, although his situation has flown much more under the radar. Speaking to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union recently, Jack emphasized that it’s been by choice that his contract isn’t getting too much attention. Jack is purposefully keeping a lower profile, and isn’t going to be making public demands anytime soon.
“When my time comes up, that’s when it’s going to come up. But right now, I’m just focused on going out there winning games, getting numbers and then by the end of the season that all will take care of itself,” Jack said. The UCLA product knows his payday will be tied to the stats he puts up, saying “obviously in my position, Telvin (Smith) is gone, so that’s 120 tackles unaccounted for, and I want at least 50 of those so I can get 150 tackles to create some leverage for myself.”
Telvin Smith recently announced he won’t be playing in 2019, meaning Jack will be even more important to the defense. Heading into the final year of his rookie deal, Jack has been a very solid player since Jacksonville took him 36th overall in 2016. He’s been durable and hasn’t missed a game since entering the league, making 16 starts each of the past two seasons. Knee issues caused Jack to fall out of the first round in the draft, so it’s been a very good sign for his next contract that he’s been able to stay healthy.
Jack also acknowledged Ngakoue’s situation, and said that he and his teammates are paying attention to what’s happening across the league. “Obviously we love the game, but at the same time, we see the ESPN tickers going and guys getting this amount of money,” Jack said. “In [Ngakoue’s] case, from the numbers that he’s put up versus the other guys getting paid, he’s either better or neck and neck with (them). I completely understand why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
Jack was a large part of the team that helped Jacksonville reach the AFC Championship Game in 2017, and they’d surely like to keep him around. Some teams don’t like giving out big contracts to inside linebackers though, and it’ll be interesting to see how highly Tom Coughlin and co. value Jack. Still only 23, Jack could land a huge contract from a team desperate for linebacker help next offseason.
The Texas Tech product is one of the fastest-rising commodities in this draft. He’s had 18 visits and private workouts thus far, but this one is among the more interesting for the high-volume college passer because of the Texans’ status as a two-time reigning division champion and void at quarterback.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted earlier this month Mahomes was unlikely to slip past the Texans at No. 25, and the team is now doing some work on him. Houston would have a better shot at drafting the strong-armed former Big 12 signal-caller at No. 25 than Watson, but the former looks to have gained extensive ground and could be a priority for a team holding a higher pick — or one that trades up in front of the Texans — at this point.
Here’s more from the AFC South.
Corey Davis made a trip to Nashville, Tenn., today to visit with the Titans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Davis will meet with the Titans tonight and Monday before flying to Baltimore for a Monday-Tuesday Ravens summit, per Rapoport. The Titans recently met with fellow first-round wideout prospects John Ross and Mike Williams. The franchise holds two first-round picks (Nos. 5 and 18) and is believed to be targeting wideout help. Their aggressive Brandin Cooks pursuit made this rather apparent.
The Jaguars will have some movement at linebacker, it appears. Last year’s second-round pick, Myles Jack has already learned middle and strong-side linebacker and is set to supplant Paul Posluszny in the middle, relocating the career-long middle ‘backer to the strong side. But the Jags view Jack as a natural fit on the weak side long-term, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Telvin Smith currently occupies that position and is expected to start there again in 2017. However, Smith is slated to be a 2018 UFA, and another Jack move would stand to impact Jacksonville’s decision on Smith. O’Halloran adds that Smith extension talks could pick up after the draft, but the fourth-year linebacker’s spot could be tenuous if Jack is viewed as the future at that position.
The Jags could also be exploring the idea of moving A.J. Cann to left guard, per O’Halloran. A third-year player, Cann’s been the Jags’ right guard starter the past two seasons. Recently re-signed Patrick Omameh and former Cardinal Earl Watford are the team’s other top guards presently. Jacksonville made a push for Kevin Zeitler but saw him sign with the Browns.
The Patriots have been linked to multiple impact receivers during Combine week. In addition to including their No. 32 overall pick in a package for Brandin Cooks, mutual interest between the Pats and Brandon Marshall exists, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Jets cut Marshall earlier this week, a move Marshall sought after declining an extension to stay on a rebuilding team. Entering his 12th year and age-33 season, Marshall should generate interest, and the Patriots’ penchant for street free agents that don’t affect the compensatory pick formula makes this a potential situation to monitor. Marshall going 11 seasons without a playoff appearance does as well.
New England has its top four wideouts under contract for 2017, although Danny Amendola‘s $7.7MM cap hit is probably untenable at this point. The Patriots want the veteran back at a reduced rate. Marshall also has a connection to the Patriots, who employ former Broncos HC Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. However, McDaniels traded Marshall to the Dolphins in 2010 after one season with the then-mercurial wideout. During that ’09 slate, Marshall drew an insubordination suspension during the preseason and saw McDanniels bench him for a game later that year.
Here’s more from the AFC.
Martellus Bennett wants to test the market, but the Patriots would like him to return. Their top competition could come from fellow AFCers, with the Raiders and Jaguars interested in the veteran tight end, Volin tweets. Jacksonville just unloaded underwhelming UFA signing Julius Thomas, and the Raiders haven’t seen much from Clive Walford yet. Former starter Mychal Rivera is a free agent. Bennett and Jared Cook reside as the top tight ends on the market.
Shad Khan bringing Tom Coughlin back to Jacksonville in a front office role will affect GM Dave Caldwell, but the Jaguars’ former top decision-maker will still have input. Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com compares the rearranged Jags front office to the ones in Miami and Atlanta, with three men dividing up power. “Surprisingly enough, through the whole process and having an idea that this was going to happen, you kind of think, ‘How’s this going to work?’ But Tom has been great,” said Caldwell, who’s entering his fifth season as Jags GM. “It’s been great to be able to walk down the hallway and bounce some things off of him: ‘Hey we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that. What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ And then we sit together with he, I and Doug [Marrone] and we come together on a collective decision.”
Myles Jack is expected to move to middle linebacker next season, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports. If that comes to fruition, Paul Posluszny would slide to strong-side ‘backer. This season represents the final year on Posluszny’s contract. He loomed as a cut candidate, but nothing’s surfaced about a potential release thus far this offseason. The 32-year-old has started for six seasons in Jacksonville. He’s due a $3.95MM base salary and will collected a $500K roster bonus if he remains with the Jags by the fifth day of the 2017 league year.
Mentioning DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills being set to see “huge” contract offers, DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline included Robert Woods in this category. Woods hasn’t produced on the level of Stills or Jackson, with season-best receiving totals of 699 yards and five touchdowns (in 2014). But the former USC talent is still just 24 and hasn’t played with the kind of quarterbacks, from a passing standpoint, with the Bills that most of his UFA receiving peers have. His market could be difficult to determine as a result.
The Chiefs added another assistant coach, bringing first-timer Terry Brandon into the fold. He will work as a defensive assistant, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. Brandon will make quite the jump, moving from graduate assistant at Bethune-Cookman to a job as an NFL staffer.
Dave Caldwell took over as the Jaguars general manager in 2013. Since then, the squad has gone 12-36.
Fortunately, there’s reason for optimism in Jacksonville. The offense seemed to have taken major steps forward in 2015, and 2016 will see the addition of several talented defenders. In fact, our own Zach Links picked the Jags to secure one of the AFC’s wild card spots!
On whether there’s additional pressure in fourth year on job:
“Not any more than the previous three years. Our pressure comes from within. … We’ve been doing this for four years, and to have a winning record is probably a reasonable expectation. I think [owner Shad Khan] will make a decision at the end of 16 games and say it’s the direction he likes or doesn’t.”
On not rushing rookie linebacker Myles Jack:
“I’m encouraged by the idea of taking a player in the second round and not needing them to be an impact player right away. That’s a good thing. When he gets on the field, he’ll be a very good player. The fact he doesn’t have to right away is a good thing for this organization.”
On Dante Fowler’s return from injury:
“It’s been truly interesting to see him come off an ACL injury like he has and have the amount of explosion and quickness and speed he possesses and not even for one second think about that injury. He’s flying around, he’s working his tail off in practice and doing a good lot things. He’s getting the rust off. Like our rookies, as the season goes along, he’s going to be a much better player.”
The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?
To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.
Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ draft class:
Patience and an unlimited bank account by team ownership might just be the tickets to get the Jaguars into the playoff picture in 2016. If not, heads are certain to roll, both in the front office and on the field. The maturation of quarterback Blake Bortles, along with the emergence of receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, gives Jacksonville formidable aerial weapons. The addition of former Jets tailback Chris Ivory gives the team a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield, as the newcomer is expected to split time with T.J. Yeldon.
The defense received the bulk of the front office’s attention via the free agent market. Denver’s Malik Jackson was brought on board to join injured 2014 first-round talent Dante Fowler, drastically upgrading the team’s pass rush. Toss in free safety Tashaun Gipson leading a revamped secondary and you can see that coordinator Todd Wash had enough weapons on hand even before the cache of talent the team snatched during the draft.
Jacksonville failed to address their primary need – offensive line – spending six of their seven draft selections on defensive talent. Still, you can envision at least two future All-Pros (Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack) to hopefully emerge from this crop. The rest of the defensive selections were taken with one task in mind – attack the pocket and get to the quarterback.
First Round – Jalen Ramsey, DB (Florida State, No. 5 overall)
The Jags wasted little time running up to the podium with Ramsey’s name on the card handed to the commissioner. Many had figured Ramsey, the best athlete in the draft, would be taken by the Chargers at No. 3 to help ease the loss of Eric Weddle. Ramsey may have slipped past the Chargers and Cowboys due to some minor knee issues and, as it turns out, that injury did pop up during Jacksonville’s rookie camp.
Still, to find Ramsey on the board with the fifth pick was a blessing. The addition of Gipson via veteran free agency will see Ramsey remain a cornerback, at least at the start of his NFL career. He’s already listed as their starting right cornerback, leaving former starters Dwayne Gratz and Aaron Colvin as caddies for Ramsey and Davon House. Both former starters will also have to contend for a roster spot, as the team also inked former Giants first rounder, Prince Amukamara, to a one-year deal. Additionally, the team seems enamored with versatile Nick Marshall, a former college passer making the conversion to the secondary.
Second Round – Myles Jack, LB (UCLA, No. 36 overall)
If Jacksonville was fast to get to the podium with the Ramsey card, they were at warp speed when it came to Myles Jack. Medical reports are split on Jack as some say the injured star is 90% ready to contribute while others indicate that he could have a short-lived career due to his knee issues. Perhaps the Jags felt that Jack was just too good to pass up, even if it is for the short term.
If Jack’s knee is able to withstand the rigors of NFL life, he could be the team’s playmaker at strong-side linebacker. Recent off-field issues for current starterDan Skuta put the veteran in a precarious situation, but even on his best day, he could not compare to Jack at his worst. Skuta ranked eighth on the team with 40 tackles in 2015 and his 1.5 sacks are easily replaced. Skuta’s roster spot could be in further peril, thanks to the drafting of Yannick Ngakoue and Tyrone Holmes (more on them in a bit). Outside of Telvin Smith, look for the linebacker unit to undergo a transformation this year, with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny possibly holding on to that spot one more year before Jack could be asked to shift inside in 2017.
2015 was supposed to be the season that Jack firmly took over the top rung on the 2016 linebacker draft board. A knee injury during practice prior to the Bruins’ third game on the 2015 schedule sidelined the versatile performer for the rest of the season. Then, to the surprise of the coaching staff, he became the first underclassman to toss his hat into the 2016 draft pool when he announced at mid-season that he would prefer to play pro ball in 2016.
In three 2015 appearances, he had one interception, three break-ups, and fifteen tackles. He was second on the team with 88 tackles as a full-time linebacker starter in 2014. He also scored three times as a ball carrier that year, a role that earned him Paul Hornung Award (nation’s most versatile player) finalist recognition as a freshman. That year, he delivered 75 tackles through eleven starts on defense and rushed for 120 yards and a score on just six carries in 2013.
Jack has good upper body muscle development and room on his frame to carry more bulk, if a team decides to keep him on the defensive line. With his quickness, range and change of direction agility, he is more than capable of playing as a weakside linebacker, but he has the raw power to handle multiple blockers at either the “Mike” or “Sam” positions. He has good arm and chest muscle thickness, along with exceptional leg drive when asked to tote the ball as a running back, good bubble and thick thighs and calves. As his frame continues to develop, he knows how to use his strength efficiently to compensate playing against the larger blockers.
Perhaps to hedge their bet in case Jack or Dante Fowler continue to have injury issues, the team continued adding to their suspect pass rushing game. In Maryland’s Ngakoue, the hybrid defensive end will be asked to play linebacker for the Jags, but he’s also penciled in behind Fowler at right end. He’s the Terps’ single-season sack record-holder with 13.5 in 2015, breaking a record set by Mark Duda (1982) and Bruce Palmer (1978). Based on that total, he ranked second nationally in sacks/g (1.13), closing out his career tied for fourth in school history in sacks (21.5).
In order to have a successful 4-3 or 3-4 alignment, one of the outside ‘backers need to be big and physical. Often called the “Elephant,” made popular by the Packers, that athlete is usually relied upon to serve as a primary pass rusher. Depending on the scheme, the Elephant can be on either side of the defensive formation. Strength is crucial, as the Elephant will often be challenged by double-team action from the right tackle and tight end, or having to fend off the cat-quick left tackles to get into the backfield successfully from the edge. More often than not, you will see teams try to convert rush ends to this position.
Ngakoue is another possibility, if the rush end can improve his overall speed, but scouts feel that he was just another junior taking a risk entering the draft. There is no doubting his skills as a pass rusher, but he has never been one to grasp the playbook. A move to linebacker at the next level could be stalled by his limitations as an edge rusher.
The same might be said for FCS standout Tyrone Holmes, who lined up with his hand down for the Grizzlies. A small-town kid, he turned down scholarship offers from Pac-12 schools (most notably Washington State) to enroll at Montana. He showed flashes as a sophomore, posting four sacks before tallying 66 tackles and fourteen stops-for- loss as a junior. Named the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year, he amassed eighteen sacks, 24.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 87 tackles last season.
Holmes can simply explode off the ball and into the backfield. He has very good body control and hand usage to avoid blocks and work around them to put pressure on the pocket. He has developed an array of moves and can be effective with all of them. He is fluid with his above average redirect ability and has more than enough quickness to pressure the pocket regularly.
One area Holmes has made marked improvement in is flushing out the quarterback and pressuring the pocket. He is strong enough to play off blocks when working inside and can deliver a “knockout blow” on the quarterback when coming off the edge. He has sudden moves to close and his initial step will generally beat the slower blockers off the snap.
With all those hybrid additions, there are only so many roster spots to dole out. If Jack, Ngakoue and Holmes all make the team, if could come at the expense of others. If you toss in Colts castoff Bjoern Werner into the roster discussion, you can see why Skuta, Hayes Pullaerd, Chris Smith and Jared Odrick might want to have the Mayflower Moving Company on speed dial.
Defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and Sen’Derrick Marks both have starting experience, but unless they “amp up” their overall game, they could eventually be challenged by fourth round find, Notre Dame’s Sheldon Day. Day played on the edge last season, making a triumphant return from 2014 knee woes. He led the team in quarterback pressures (13) and his 15.5 stops-for-loss were the most by a Notre Dame player since Derek Landri in 2006 (no Irish player has had more than 15.5 TFLs since Brandon Hoyte in 2005, 16.5). Where he dominated was near the goal-line, ranking second in this draft class by making nine touchdown-saving tackles. He also showed excellent pass defense skills, as just 4-of- 18 passes targeted into his area were completed. As a pass rusher, six of his nine pressures came on the final play during those possessions.
Dave-Te Thomas owns and operates The NFL Draft Report, a service which has provided insight to league scouting departments for over 40 years. All year round, can read Thomas’ in-depth reviews of both blue chip prospects and diamonds in the rough by visiting the NFL Draft Report blog.