The backside of the Jaguars of front seven has featured game-changing players throughout the history of the franchise. This position group was one of the most difficult to rank. It continues to become clearly evident, and no surprise, that the defensive side of the ball has historically been the dominant side for the Jaguars. Every prototype has been through the linebackers' room here in Jacksonville, and I think that has helped the group be so dominant over the course of the teams' history. There have regularly been players that complement their counterparts and have fit the scheme perfectly year in and year out. From traditional downhill run-stoppers to fast outside backers that can run from the box to the sideline, keeping opposing running backs from bouncing outside, these linebackers are the best in Jaguars' history.
Paul Posluszny: Paul Posluszny, adorned with the nickname "Poz" by the Duval faithful, is another player who is worthy of being argued as the greatest free-agent signing in franchise history. Drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL, Poz immediately found himself entrenched in the starting lineup as a rookie. After a broken arm ended his rookie year, Poz followed up with his first 100+ tackle season, something that he would repeat in years to come. After four years and almost 400 total tackles, the Bills' new scheme was not one that Poz was fond of. The Jaguars signed him to a six-year contract prior to the 2011 season, and the rest is history. Poz went on to become a leader in the locker room, and for all intents and purposes, the face of the franchise. Nobody was more consistent over the years than the middle linebacker. He surpassed 119 total tackles in five of seven seasons with the team and ranks first in team history with 816 total tackles. While he may not have been the most agile zone coverage backer, Poz had a nose for the ball and ended up with 11 interceptions during his time in Duval, which ranks 5th all time. He played out his contract, coming up just short of his first-ever Super Bowl and retired prior to the 2018 season. There is no doubt in my mind he is a top 10 Jaguar of all time.
Daryl Smith: Coming in at number two on this list is the man who Paul Posluszny passed for leading tackler in Jaguar's history: Daryl Smith. Smith began his career in Jacksonville, drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He became a force in the front 7, starting 13 games and surpassing 75 tackles. Playing through most of the mid-2000s beside Mike Peterson, he contributed to league-leading defenses and helped the Jaguars see some postseason success during his nine years in Duval. He surpassed 100 tackles twice and fell three tackles short of a third 100 tackle season. In total, Smith compiled 682 total tackles, which is good enough for second all-time, and also has the second-most sacks by a linebacker in team history.
Telvin Smith: Rounding out my list is a player who had so much promise, but had his career derailed by off the field issues. Telvin Smith was a unique physical monster, with secondary speed and the ability to tackle anyone. Smith may be considered one of the team's best late draft steals, being taken in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL draft. Telvin quickly began to showcase his elite skills, earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 7 of his rookie year, helping the team win its 1st game of the season. He began to show flashes of greatness and quickly became a top player on defense for the Jaguars. He was an instrumental part of the 2017 AFC Championship run. 2017 was Smith's best all-around season, as he made countless memorable plays, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, and was named the 67th best player in the NFL by his peers. In his five seasons with the team, Telvin surpassed 100 total tackles each year. He scored three defensive touchdowns and ranks fifth in tackles in team history. His life off the field has been filled with troubles, and he was out of the league after just five seasons.
The Jaguars have a handful of honorable mentions to speak of. There are the fringe players for this list who were stars at the position as well, like former Butkus award winner Kevin Hardy. Hardy was a hard-hitting linebacker who helped a stout defense get the Jaguars as far as they have ever been in the postseason. Hardy is followed by formerly mentioned Mike Peterson, who roamed the middle for some dominant defenses in the mid-2000s. Then, there are the solid guys who played alongside these stars, such as Justin Durant, Akin Ayodele, and Russell Allen. Lastly, one player who I can see climbing onto this list if he continues to improve and is here long term is Myles Jack. He was never down and was one premature whistle away from becoming one of the most iconic stars in franchise history.
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