Ahhh, the season of lists and rankings that mean absolutely nothing. A combination of players, coaches, execs, and scouts helped Jeremy Fowler of ESPN put together a top ten list for all the major position groups in football.
The rankings for off-ball linebackers came out earlier this week, and a particular Jaguar made the cut ... barely.
There are many quality off-ball linebackers in the league today, and while this list is comprised of inside and outside backers, Fowler and company at least had the common sense to differentiate between EDGE linebackers and actual off-the-ball types (unlike a certain all-star game we all know and hate).
Myles Jack came in at number ten, according to Fowler's group of rankers.
Jack was underachieving at middle linebacker; the arrival of free agent Joe Schobert slid him to the outside. That might have been the best move Jacksonville made during a brutal 1-15 season in 2020.
"He played like an All-Pro last year," an NFC exec said of Jack.
Jack showed his range with 49 run-stop tackle wins (plays within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage). One AFC coach called him more of a "listener than commander," hence the move to the outside suiting him.
Our final top-10 linebacker, Jack edged out Deion Jones, whose elite speed landed him in the top five last year. But Jack is fast too, and he has nearly 20 pounds on Jones (244 vs. 227).
"Would like to see him more consistent, but it is really tough to get past him," an NFC coach said. "[The Jaguars] are letting him play fast and float to the ball."
While being named a top ten player at any position is undoubtedly high praise, it seems a bit low for Jack, at least before you observe the rest of the list.
Bucs' linebacker Devin White came in at number one, followed in sequential order by Fred Warner, Bobby Wagner, Darius Leonard, Lavonte David, Rouquan Smith, Eric Kendricks, Tremaine Edmunds, and Demario Davis. While the ordering of that bunch is debatable, it's hard to argue against any of those players finding their way into the top ten.
It's hard to gripe about Devin White, Fred Warner, Bobby Wagner, Lavonte David, Darius Lenoard, Eric Kendricks, Roquan Smith, or Demario Davis being ranked ahead of Jack. All have played at a higher level for a more extended period of time than Jack has throughout his career. Of course, the Jaguars' coaching staff held Jack back for years by misusing him, but there's nothing we can do to change the past. I'd probably take Jack over Kendricks and Davis among those eight, but not based on consistency. Jack makes more "did he just do that!" type plays than either Kendrick or Davis, but their consistency is a great boon to their respective squads.
The only issue I have here is with Tremaine Edmunds. He's a fine young player that does plenty for his team and has a bright future ahead of him. But Myles Jack outperformed him in 2020 in terms of consistency and statistically. Jack made more plays in coverage, registered more tackles for loss, had more turnover-worthy plays, and had one less tackle in one less game than Edmunds.
Overall, we're splitting hairs here. And if this were a ranking based on futures, Jack would unquestionably be higher on the list. All of the linebackers in this ranking do a lot for their clubs and deserve to be here. I'm actually surprised that Jack made the top ten at all, considering the Jaguars are coming off a 1-15 season and are regularly a punching bag for the national media.
Jaguars' starting middle linebacker Joe Schobert also received at least one vote.
"Good field general, great in zone coverage. Never going to be the big, physical guy." -- AFC defensive coach
Where would you rank Myles Jack? Let me know on Twitter!