JACKSONVILLE (Fla.) — Coaches often repeat it: It is impossible to have too many pass-rushers… cornerbacks… or playmakers.
Jacksonville seems to have linebackers as well.
Signing a free agent is not the only benefitThe Jaguars selected a player who was the NFL's leader in tackles, namely. In the first round (No. 27) In the third round (No. 68) to join an existing linebackers group. As well as the first overall pick (An edge rusher, who will start his career at linebacker).
• Winners, losers: |
The questions now are: How will they fit together?
That’s not something that general manager Trent Baalke and coach Doug Pederson say has to be figured out.
“There’s versatility with the number of linebackers that you do have,” Pederson said. “The depth that you have allows for the use of special teams and the value that we place on special teams. These guys aren't just great athletes. They are high-speed internet guys and can process information at lightning speed.
“If it’s a rotating basis or what not, a guy goes down and it’s plug-and-play. That’s the versatility of having linebackers that can play left and right. They don’t have to switch. They don’t have to flip. They can process the information that is presented in front of them.”
The Jaguars had a clear idea of their defensive goals when they picked Lloyd, Walker and Muma. It all depends on how quickly they pick up the defense. It also depends upon how quickly they feel comfortable in their primary roles before being asked to play other roles.
Lloyd was 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. He’s a three-down player, and the Jaguars could line him up at a different spot for each snap.
“Being able to do everything at a high level that you could ask a linebacker to do — cover tight ends, running backs, play zone coverage, play the run, rush the passer, doing all those things — I feel like I'm the most complete when it comes to doing all those things at a high level,” Lloyd said. “I'm only going to continue to get better. I feel like my ceiling is really high, and I can't wait to get out with my coaches, my coaches in the NFL, and really just perfect my craft.”
Muma, who is 6-3 and 242 pounds, said that the Jaguars would use him in the money-backer role that Mike Caldwell brought with him from his years working under Todd Bowles. It’s a linebacker-safety hybrid who can play in the box against the run as well as cover receivers, backs and tight ends.
It’s also a position that had its origins as part of sub packages, but with the way offense has evolved, the players who are versatile enough to man that spot are seeing more time on the field with base defenses.
Muma was a linebacker at Wyoming and will be joining the Jaguars as a special team member.
“He’s a green-dot guy,” Baalke said. “He can run the defense. He’s a really good special teams player as well. There’s just a lot to like. At that point in the draft, he was a very good value. A guy we liked on our board who plays the game we like, and plays it physically. He can play on all four downs.”
The Jaguars could use Lloyd and Muma to rotate the linebacker positions. Oluokun or Muma would be the inside linebacker. Walker would line up at defensive end, or the interior, if there is pass-rushing downs. Alternately, Allen and Walker could be outside linebackers and Oluokun (or Muma) inside.
Or any other combination with Walker or Lloyd moving around. Lloyd could be used as the money backer by the Jaguars, too.
The Jaguars' flexibility to move players around to create or exploit mismatches is key. As defenses attempt to keep up with high flying offenses, it is increasingly important to have position versatility. You can find those guys in linebacker.
“I don’t think we can ever have enough good linebackers,” Baalke said. “… When you say we’re overloaded at linebacker, you’re only one play away from being down a linebacker. As we’ve seen through the years, that’s a position where, knock on wood, you sometimes lose some guys.”