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Jaguars 2018 Position Group Breakdown: Linebacker

Ruairi Songer

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After the departure of Paul Posluszny, a young and talented Jaguars LB core will be burdened with unfamiliar responsibilities. Telvin Smith, OLB, will take over the leadership role that Poz left behind.

Smith has quickly progressed into being one of the best LBs in all of the NFL in only four years. In each of those years he recorded 100+ tackles, and a handful of interceptions and forced fumbles. Smith’s sideline-to-sideline defending capabilities make him a nightmare for opposing offenses. While his play on the field should continue at a strong rate, he is also going to have to mentor Blair Brown, Myles Jack, and Donald Payne. Being as passionate and fiery of a player as Smith is, he should have no issue adjusting to this “veteran” style role.

Projected linebacker depth chart

*Note: Italics = starter, Underline = Acquired in 2018 FA/Draft

LB: Telvin Smith¸ Myles Jack, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Leon Jacobs

Myles Jack had an impressive 2017 and played well at SAM linebacker, after originally struggling at the MIKE position. Going into his 3rd year as a Jaguar, Jack should be more confident and capable of playing MIKE in place of Poz. Jack recorded 90 tackles and two sacks last year, a huge jump in production from his 24 tackles in 2016. I expect a good year from Jack, but with a hiccup or two due to being moved to the MLB spot.

After many expected Blair Brown to take over MLB or SAM, Donald Payne stole the show at OTAs hopes to continue to do so at training camp. Payne was a Ravens UDFA signing in 2017, but was failed to make the final roster. He was claimed off waivers by the Jags soon after, and he went on to record 13 tackles and played well on special teams. It is difficult to evaluate Payne because he has little real playtime, but he should be an interesting player to watch develop.

Blair Brown had a decent rookie year, but was very limited on playtime. Most of the stories out of training camp so far denote Payne as the front-runner for the newly vacant SAM position. I expect Payne to take this role with Brown as his backup.

Leon Jacobs, rookie out of Wisconsin, is an incredibly gifted athlete and was a contributor to a talented Wisconsin defense in 2017. Jacobs has explosive speed and is ridiculously built (see: this Instagram post), but will have to work on his instinctiveness and ability to diagnose plays. He adds value as a pass rusher due to his quick first step, speed and power. Look for Jacobs to take a possibly take a starting role in 3-4 years.

Check out the rest of the Locked on Jaguars position group breakdowns below:

Ruairi Songer is a lifelong Jags fan and Duval native. You can follow him on Twitter (@ruairi_s) for Jags news, Draft information, and off-season updates.

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