Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder was recently ranked amongst the NFL’s best at his position, according to USA Today’s Touchdown Wire.
The Jacksonville Jaguars inked center Brandon Linder to a five-year, $51.7 million contract extension before the start of the 2017 season. The team rewarded their man in the pivot for his play since he was draft in the third round out of Miami in 2014. Since signing that new deal, the sixth-year pro has played consistently but has also been plagued by injuries that have forced him to miss part of the 2017 and 2018 season.
Healthy once again, can the team’s center play a full season, help solidify the offensive line, and prove he is worth what the team shelled out all that money for? Linder’s play on the field, when in the lineup, is one of the reasons he was listed as one of the 11 best at his position in the league, per Doug Farrar of USA Today’s Touchdown Wire.
The Jaguars need a big season from their most tenured veteran on the offensive line if the offense is to make progress in 2019. Linder came in ninth on Farrar’s list. In a league that puts a premium on offensive line play, having Linder still ranked amongst the best in the NFL is a testament to what he means to this organization.
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"“When Linder was lost for the 2018 season to a knee injury in November, it was yet another domino falling in a season that saw several Jaguars offensive linemen dealing with various ailments,” Farrar wrote. “But when he was on the field, Linder was among the league’s best centers, allowing just one sack and seven total pressures in 507 snaps.”"
The Jaguars gave up 53 sacks last season with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler under center. That number was awful considering the team yielded just 24 sacks in 2017. Injuries, as a whole, decimated this unit last year. With Linder, a healthy Cam Robinson at left tackle and left guard Andrew Norwell back on the field, the left side of the line should shine.
"“He’s been a perfect fit for the team’s preferred run-heavy style with his power blocking, in which he uses body weight and leverage to maul opposing defenders all over the place. And in pass protection, Linder uses his upper-body strength and wingspan to keep defenders out of the pocket at a very high level,” Farrar added."
The Jaguars returned four of five starters from Week 1 of the NFL season last year. Only right tackle Jawaan Taylor, a rookie out of Florida, will be a new face on this unit.
Linder has never made the Pro Bowl. It’s possible with an injury-free season and an improved line scheme, that could be an attainable goal for the coming season. It all depends on his health and how his teammates respond to a new offensive line coach in George Warhop and good health at their positions as well.