After being named the Jacksonville Jaguars most underrated player for the 2020 season, what is next for center Brandon Linder?
Linder has been a center, a guard, a leader, a team captain for the franchise, and now, according to Pro Football Focus, he is the team’s most underrated player. Looking at how the offensive line has played the past two seasons and how the team will look for the same starting five to perform above expectations for 2020, it is the former Miami star who must lead the way from the pivot.
“Playing on a contract worth over $50 million in total, it’s clear that the Jaguars recognize the value Linder has provided. But he’s still a player you don’t hear about often in conversations about the league’s top interior offensive linemen,” writes Ben Linsey.
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And you won’t hear much about him until things turn around here in Jacksonville. As a franchise that has won just 11 games in two seasons and a unit that gave up 41 sacks last season as pass protection broken down and run blocking became suspect in the red zone, this is a unit that needs a shot of adrenaline this year.
Linder, although someone who is constantly praised by head coach Doug Marrone and the coaching staff, deserves to be recognized as one of the better centers in the league. Hopefully, that happens soon, potentially this year.
“Since entering the league in 2014, Linder ranks 11th among qualifying guards and centers in overall grade, and he ranks fourth among centers since taking over the starting job there in 2016, trailing only Jason Kelce, Alex Mack and Travis Frederick. That looks like a resume that is deserving of at least one Pro Bowl appearance to me,” Linsey added.
The Jaguars did little to improve the line this offseason, but could still make a few changes before training camp or in the preseason. The addition of Ben Bartch (through the Draft) to play right guard and the re-signing of Tyler Shatley help with depth up front, but there is still a belief by many locally this is a unit that needed an overhaul this offseason.
For the record, we do not know if the Jacksonville Jaguars front office made moves to try to sign veteran free agents. So, the moves that have been made were predicated on what is assumed.
As Linder continues to do his job without much fanfare, the Jaguars will hopefully move towards more stability that will allow quarterback Gardner Minshew more time in the pocket. The interior line – with A.J. Cann and Andrew Norwell at the guard positions, will have to do a better job sealing off the middle of defenses this season for Minshew and the running game to be more effective.
Maybe that will help Linder gain the recognition in the AFC he has deserved the past few seasons.