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Player Spotlight: Myles Jack

A detailed look at Myles Jack's fantasy prospects for 2016.

A DEFENSE “WASHED” CLEAN

It has been observed in recent years that coaching staffs generally aren’t given long periods of time to turn things around, even when they inherit a bad team. By today’s standards, Jacksonville’s Head Coach Gus Bradley has been given an age. Though the offense made major strides in 2015, the pass defense still ranked among the worst in the league. With Bradley entering his fourth year, one has to believe that another losing season would mean the end of his tenure in Jacksonville. Keenly aware of this pressure, Jacksonville made some major moves, both in their coaching personnel and in the Draft. One of those position changes occurred at Defensive Coordinator. Bob Babich was fired from that position and Todd Wash was promoted from Defensive Line Coach/ Run Game Coordinator. Wash has twenty years of coaching experience and is highly thought of by other coaches and players alike. The rushing defense did improve significantly under his tutelage, going from the 27th ranked unit in 2014 to the 15th ranked unit in 2015. While Babich was criticized by fans for not putting emphasis on pressuring opposing quarterbacks, Wash seems to be heavily committed to this idea. In his introductory press conference, Wash stated, “...if you look at it, the teams that were top ten in third down also were-- seven out of the ten-- were top ten in quarterback disruption. So there’s a correlation between disrupting the quarterback and third-down. So that’s something we’ve got to work on here in the offseason. That’s really our number one project...” Wash went on to explain that improving the entire defense would be the major emphasis of the Jaguars’ offseason plan.

The Jaguars honored their commitment to making their defense better in free agency and the Draft. In free agency, they paid big money to safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive end Malik Jackson, and cornerback Prince Amukamara. In the Draft, six of their seven picks, including four of the first five, were defensive players. They used their first-round selection to take Jalen Ramsey, the best coverage safety in the class. Myles Jack, the subject of today’s spotlight, was taken with the fourth pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft after the Jaguars traded up to secure him.

“MYLES AHEAD”

Jack can really do it all at the NFL level. At UCLA, Jack was asked to play safety and running back at times, which speaks to his athleticism and versatility on the field. He was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, an honor given to the most versatile player in the college game. He demonstrates these traits on defense by stuffing a run on one play and running with and successfully covering a tight end on the next play. Jack can also do damage as a pass rusher lined up on the outside. Further accentuating his flexibility, Jack has the ability to play all three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense. Jack’s role fluidity means he’ll be a three down linebacker who will rarely leave the field. His likely early usage will be at the strong side linebacker position on early downs. When facing clear passing situations, Posluszny will head to the bench and Jack will share the middle with Telvin Smith.

“JACK’D UP”

The concerns with Jack are primarily health related. He tore his meniscus in September of 2015, but has since successfully rehabilitated. In early May, news broke that Jack suffers from a degenerative knee condition. He fell from the first round of the Draft amid concerns he needed a microfracture procedure. Before day two of the Draft began, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Dr. James Andrews told Myles Jack he doesn't require microfracture surgery at this time. This proclamation does not rule out Jack needing future surgery, but it was good news for his immediate availability. Some have dinged Jack’s Draft grade because he doesn’t look the part of a prototypical NFL linebacker prospect, particularly in terms of length. Another issue brought up by Jack detractors is that he got into multiple fights with teammates in spirited practice sessions throughout his time at UCLA.

POSITIVES

  • Jack is a fundamentally sound tackler, rusher, and coverage linebacker.

  • Jack has versatile usage and will seldom leave the field.

  • Paul Posluszny’s career is nearing an end. Jack will probably inherit his middle linebacker role and that is a recipe for fantasy success.

NEGATIVES

  • Jack does not possess the prototypical build of an NFL linebacker.

  • Jack has a high likelihood of needing microfracture surgery in the future, a procedure that has about a 70-80% success rate.

  • Paul Posluszny will have to step aside before Jack unlocks his true statistical ceiling.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s folly to completely dismiss Jack’s health concerns, but it’s also foolish to ignore what he can do for your fantasy team. Draft him with the knowledge that his career could be shortened, but that Jack could do in his potentially abbreviated career what it takes many linebackers their whole career to accomplish. With Jack not being immediately slotted to start in the middle and with his long-term health concerns, he will probably slide in your fantasy draft, just as he did in the NFL Draft. Take advantage of this, especially in tackle-heavy formats. In the early summer drafts, Jack is going in the late-second or later in dynasty IDP leagues. Jack may not immediately put up eye-popping numbers while playing outside linebacker. However, when the transition to the middle happens, expect Jack to perennially be in the top ten IDP scorers at his position.

2016 PROJECTIONS

JOHN NORTON'S PROJECTIONS

G

TKL

AST

SCK

FF

FR

PD

INT

TD

FPT

16

76

28

1

1

1

5

1

0

157.5

AARON RUDNICKI'S PROJECTIONS

G

TKL

AST

SCK

FF

FR

PD

INT

TD

FPT

16

56

22

1

1

1

4

1

0

121.50

OTHER VIEWPOINTS

Dane Brugler and Rob Rang concluded in their joint CBS Sports profile of Jack:

“An athletic specimen with above-average pursuit speed, contact balance and mental processor to know everything going on around him, Jack has the athletic skill set to be a difference-maker.”

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus likes Jack, but voiced the following concerns about him in his scouting report:

As I said earlier, there really isn’t much to actively dislike about Jack, but that’s not to say he is a perfect prospect either. He has an ill-disciplined streak which is always a frustrating thing to see in a player. He has been involved in practice fights and scuffles at UCLA and has committed foolish penalties in each of the past two seasons, notching 11 total flags and a negative grade in that area both years. Those figures led all linebackers in both seasons to the point he got injured. This obviously isn’t going to drop him too far down anybody’s draft board, but it’s a black mark there is no reason he should have.