Leon Jacobs, the Jacksonville Jaguars seventh-round draft pick, has earned the final starting linebacker spot and will get his first taste of the regular season on Sunday against the New York Giants.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone would not call rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs an underdog when asked about the seventh-round draft pick’s performance this offseason. Players selected in the last round of the NFL Draft aren’t usually starters in this league, but Jacobs has done everything the team has asked of him.
This led to him moving into the empty outside linebacker position created when Paul Posluszny retired.
As a side note, I predicted Jacobs would be the starter once the team came out for OTAs. Jacobs beat out Blair Brown and others. Now, with the team ready to play their first game of the season against the New York Giants, everything will be for real for the eager rookie out of Wisconsin.
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"“I don’t [consider him an underdog], Marrone said at his meeting with the media earlier this week. “Maybe because of the position he plays and the draft. I don’t know anything about that, but we liked him coming out. I know when we watched him I know I liked him and I was happy to get him.”"
At 6-foot-2 and 248 pounds, Jacobs looks like he could run through a wall and still make a tackle. It’s that kind of intensity the Jaguars will hope for, now that Posluszny has retired after a seven-year stint with Jacksonville and the team’s leader on and off the field.
"“Like I said before when he’s on the field he’s very bright, smart, strong. When he was out there he looked like an NFL football player, Marrone added. “I think he has played well and he has gotten better and he still has a long way to go, but he’s working hard at it.”"
Jacobs will be the only rookie who starts for Jacksonville on Sunday. The team was able to draft for depth given they have many stars in their starting 22. Marrone was specific what he expects from a rookie who walks on the field with the other 21 starters.
"“My expectation is I need you to give your best effort, your best foot forward because those are things that do not take talent,” Marrone explained. “To go out there and work extremely hard and do those things, for me, that’s what I look at from everyone. And then it’s, can we develop them? Can we coach them? Do they have enough talent, strength, and knowledge to go out there and produce and perform?”"
Jacobs has the luxury of playing with both Telvin Smith and Myles Jack, two of the better young linebackers in the NFL. While both veterans use speed and quickness, the rookie will use his strength and power to help the Jaguars.
He could be used in run defense and in pass defense, covering tight ends or running backs out of the backfield.
Marrone just wants the rookie to play to the best of his ability. He wants that of all his players on Sunday in their first game of the season.
"“Personally, I don’t like to put expectations before I start seeing the players play and actually watch them play,” he said."