We're moving right along through our Jaguars' position group grading project.
So far, we've graded: Safety, Cornerback, Offensive Tackle, Interior Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, and Tight End
To this point, the Jaguars' average position group has graded out at a C (76.9). As you might've guessed, that's not very good. Today, however, we're breaking down a group that could be amongst the best in football: the Jaguars' linebackers.
I've written about the Jaguars linebackers on several occasions this offseason. I believe this will be the most improved position on the team by a country mile. Why? Joe Schobert. Yes, he's only one man. But signing him to play middle linebacker not only upgrades that position, but it also is a massive win for the team's weakside linebacker spot, where Myles Jack will now play.
Instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole — as they did in 2018-2019 — with Myles Jack at middle linebacker, the Jags will be able to put Myles Jack on the outside, where he's a much more natural fit. He won't be responsible for the entire defense. No, he'll only have to worry about his assignment. Jack played weakside linebacker in college, and the move back should represent a pronounced uptick in productivity, efficiency, and playmaking ability.
Schobert will own the middle linebacker spot. He's been the defensive signal-caller for the Browns since 2017 and takes pride in the ability to get everyone lined up. His pre-snap prowess is reminiscent of Paul Posluszny, but that's where their similarities end. Puz was a downhill wrecking ball that was best left off the field in coverage situations. Schobert can certainly play the run, as evidenced by his 100+ tackles in each of the last three seasons, but he can also cover with the best of them.
Schobert and Jack will rarely come off the field, and often times, they'll be the only off-ball linebackers out there for Jacksonville. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash has routinely been a nickel heavy defensive coordinator, so on three out of four plays, it'll just be Scho and Jack on the field. But when the Jaguars are in base, they've got plenty of options. Leon Jacobs has been an effective strongside linebacker for the Jaguars over the last two seasons. K'Lavon Chaisson, the 20th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, will also play some SAM, but will usually be on the line of scrimmage.
In terms of depth, newcomers Cassius Marsh and Aaron Lynch should be able to play some standup linebacker as well. They've been effective role players over the last several seasons of their respective careers and should provide some versatility off the bench.
A somewhat forgotten man, 2019 third-round pick Quincy Williams, will be Myles Jack's backup on the weak side. Williams is bursting at the seams with physical ability, but it needs to be harnessed. A reserve role should help Williams moving forward.
Shaquille Quarterman, the rookie fourth-rounder out of Miami, is a Jacksonville native. He's somewhat limited athletically but gives maximum effort and will develop into a leader down the line. He'll back up Joe Schobert in year one and could develop into a quality two down middle linebacker with time.
Joe Giles-Harris and Dakota Allen return from the 2019 squad and will have to fight to make the roster. Nate Evans, an undrafted free agent from UCF, will also get his shot to make an impression during training camp.
I'm probably more bullish on this group than most. The pairing of Joe Schobert in the middle with Myles Jack on the outside is a match made in football heaven. Both have elite physical ability. And the depth here is much better than it has been in recent years.
Grade: B (86.25)
With the linebackers included, the Jaguars' team grade now sits at 78.
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