Is this the season that Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder gets the noteriety he deserves as one of the best in the NFL?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been maligned for the past two seasons about poor offensive line play. As a group the players have lacked the ability to open holes for the running game and the ability to protect the quarterback continuously.
The results have been obvious with 41 quarterback sacks last season and issues in the red zone.
Buy if you look closer, there are some positives to build on this season, especially at right tackle and center. While Jawaan Taylor is still learning to play on the NFL level, Brandon Linder continues to build his resume as one of the best pivot men in the league.
In his most recent story, ranking NFL players by position, Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire places Linder as the sixth best center in the NFL.
"“Some centers get their work done with pure quickness and agility without a lot of base strength, and as long as your offense jibes with that, it’s okay. Linder is decently agile, but what he really does well is use his power to latch on and embarrass defensive linemen — especially in the run game,” Farrar writes."
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The former third-round pick out of Miami in 2014 is the lone remaining player from that draft class that still calls the Jaguars his employer. He is also one of the longest tenured players with the Jacksonville Jaguars organization as the front office continues to make changes to the roster this offseason.
The Jaguars have plenty of questions at three of the five spots on the offensive line. Does Cam Robinson finally fulfill his ability to become a dominant left tackle? Will Andrew Norwell live up to the $66.5M contract he signed two seasons ago? Can A.J. Cann take another step forward and play better in 2020?
Plenty has been written this offseason – especially here at Black and Teal – about the offensive line being one of the biggest weaknesses of the team last season. Looking at the current roster, not much was done to make improvements.
In fact, both head coach Doug Marrone and general manager David Caldwell told local media members that the offensive line was a strength of the team and they both expected the unit to take a step forward in 2020.
That should be one of the major stories of training camp in a couple of weeks.
Linder has done a solid job in his time in the NFL. The one thing missing from his resume is a trip to the Pro Bowl. This could be the season he finally receives the recognition. If the line comes together and the team is able to protect quarterback Gardner Minshew and open holes for running back Leonard Fournette, it seems logical.
And then Linder may find himself as part of the conversation as the best in the NFL at his position.