If the Jacksonville Jaguars can get the same kind of production out of Yannick Ngakoue they did last season, you would think the organization would be pretty pleased.
Ngakoue is part of a 2016 draft class that features Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and himself with the first three picks – possibly the best trio of selections in the first three rounds the Jaguars have ever had. Ramsey is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Jack is set for a breakout season. The former third-round pick out of Maryland is ready to take his game to the next level.
He told the media on Thursday he is doing the same things he has since joining the team in the weight room but is also more focused on being the best player on the field.
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"“The same things, man [on what he is doing to get better], just hitting hard in the weight room, consistency,” Ngakoue said. ” It’s really just about how much you want it, playing the run. It’s about having the knack to do it as well as the pass rush. Everybody likes to get to the quarterback and make sacks. You’ve got to have the same thing to be an all-around player, playing the run.”"
Ngakoue has 20 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL and has bypassed defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr – the team’s first-round pick in 2015 – as the top young pass rusher on the team.
Now, entering his third season in black and teal, he is in a position to be considered one of the elite sack artists.
He told the media in attendance he hasn’t gained more weight, but he has gotten stronger. That’s a scary thought for opposing quarterbacks.
As the 23-year-old continues to mature on the field and in the locker room, he has made it a point to become more of a leader of the defense.
With so much talent and plenty of big personalities, Ngakoue still makes his presence felt.
"“Guys look up to me a lot, just seeing what I’m doing, so I just try to hold myself accountable,” he said. “What it’s coming to mean is being early all the time, just doing everything the right way, even on the field. I’m still a young player going into my third season, but I’ve taken on a role where I can be a leader.”"
There were plenty of times during games on the sideline and in practice where veteran pass rusher Calais Campbell was seen mentoring the younger student. That should also impact how Ngakoue plays this season and in the future for the Jaguars.
If Ngakoue can improve on his sack totals and continue to master the art of the strip sack, he could be part of the talk for Defensive Player of the Year. He could become the best pass rusher this organization has ever had.