Training camp will be starting Monday for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and we’ve given a positional preview of every position on the offensive end. Before they take the field, we wanted to knock out some of the defense as well, which could be the side of the ball that improves the most due to the additions it received.
There isn’t a position the Jags bolstered more than the linebacker one as they made a splash signing there in free agency and found a new starter in Foyesade Oluokun after releasing former team captain Myles Jack. Then in the draft, the Jags spent three of their top four picks on linebackers, including two in the first round.
Let’s take a look at the linebacker position as a whole and what the new group will look like before the Jags take the field.
June 13, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) participates in mini camp at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags added many new faces to the middle of their defense through the linebacking corps and will have two new starters holding down the middle. One of those players was Oluokun as previously mentioned, and the second will be a first-round pick out of Utah, Devin Lloyd.
Oluokun was a player the Jags splurged on and awarded a long-term deal that is a three-year one worth $45 million that guarantees $28 million. The deal is one that some may have disagreed with, but Oluokun is an ascending player and was a tackling machine last season. In fact, his total of 192 tackles from last season led the NFL.
As for Lloyd, he’s a player the Jags traded back into the first round with Tampa (pick No. 27 overall) after he fell a little in the draft. He’s the definition of a modern-day linebacker as he proved he can cover and help in run support, garnering grades of 82.9 and 82.0 in both categories, respectively.
Returning from last season will be inside linebackers Tyrell Adams, Shaquille Quarterman, and Chapelle Russell. Of the three, Quarterman and Russell were on the active roster all or most of last season, and their chances to be on the final roster this season should be good.
In the process of playing in every game, Quarterman registered 30 tackles, and with: 220 special teams snaps to his name in 2022, he’s a player who Jags special teams coach Heath Farwell may especially be a fan of during camp. The same should apply to Russell, who had: 296 special teams reps and accumulated 18 tackles. Another thing that helps Russell’s case is the fact that he has familiarity with Jags defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell dating back to Russell’s time with Tampa.
As for Adams, he joined the team in late December, so he doesn’t have an extensive body of work with the Jags like Russell and Quarterman. However, he does have 14 career starts to his name and will enter this season with 163 total tackles.
Then finally, the Jags have two more rookie linebackers in third-round selection Chad Muma, and undrafted rookie Grant Morgan. Coming out of Wyoming, Muma was one of the best linebackers in college just like Lloyd was, and like Lloyd, he figures to be a player who is a part of the Jags’ long-term plans. Last season, Muma finished his time at Wyoming with a 90.3 PFF grade overall after garnering 115 tackles.
Morgan, on the other hand, may be more of a developmental player. While at Arkansas last season, he garnered 101 tackles for the Razorbacks, but his career-high came the year before when he racked up 11 tackles.
Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker (44) participates in an offseason running past outside linebacker Josh Allen (41) training activity Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
Simply put, Jags outside linebacker Josh Allen is one of the best players on the team, and they need him to produce as he did as a rookie when he accumulated 10.5 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl. It appears the Jags were well aware of that and drafted rookie Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick of April’s draft to pair with the veteran.
Walker will join the Jags after being a part of a historically good Georgia Bulldogs defense. However, unlike he did in Athens, he will mostly stick to being an outside linebacker for the Jags and rushing the passer.
With the role being somewhat new to him, Walker will have a lot to learn when it comes to playing from the edge in the NFL. The physical tools are certainly there for him to eventually become the Jags’ top pass-rusher as he brings elite length and power to the defense.
The Jags also have another former first-round pick in K’Lavon Chaisson on the roster, who will be part of their edge rotation. He’s struggled to make an impact in his first two seasons, and as a result, many will have their eyes on him this preseason. Last season Chaisson racked up over 30 tackles, but only had one sack, bringing his career total to two.
That’s not the type of impact the Jags had in mind, but he’s still a young player who has a long career ahead of him, and earning the third edge rushing spot in the Jags’ rotation is a good place for him to turn it around.
Jamir Jones is a player the Jags added late last season in December through the waiver wire. He was able to take the field for their last two games, and if he can have a good preseason, Jones could be able to make the team as the Jags’ fourth edge rusher.
Finally, Wyatt Ray is the player in the group who will be on the outside looking in. He just joined the team on June 15 when it was announced that Jordan Smith was going on injured reserve. One positive that Ray will have going forward is that he has a pair of starts to his name, which could help him in the preseason where he will need to stand out to make the roster.