Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 position outlook: Linebackers
By Jesse Overby
Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers corps seems to be in good shape. After releasing Nate Evans and Joe Giles-Harris, the unit looks like this: Dakota Allen, Myles Jack, Leon Jacobs, Dylan Moses, Shaquille Quarterman, Chapelle Russell, Joe Schobert, Quincy Williams, Damien Wilson.
The Jags’ starting linebackers in 2020 were Jack, Schobert, and Leon Jacobs. Others to start during the season were Allen, Kamalei Correa, Joe Giles-Harris, Aaron Lynch, and Curtis Marsh Sr. This offseason, Jacksonville added Wilson from Kansas City and signed Dylan Moses as an undrafted free agent from Alabama. Furthermore, they drafted Jordan Smith of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
How will the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebacker corps look in 2021?
The Jaguars, under new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, are expected to switch between a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense. When they’re in a base 4-3 defense, the starting linebackers will be Schobert, who made the Pro Bowl in 2017, in the middle, Jack at weakside linebacker, and probably Wilson at strong-side linebacker.
The Jaguars’ starting linebackers in a 4-3 set have the potential to be a top ten unit, and let’s not forget that they signed Moses, who many had projected to be drafted in the second or third round. He could end up being an undrafted gem.
How successful the Jaguars are in the 2021 season will depend on how well their defensive front seven perform, and a lot of that success is going to depend on their hybrid players – Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, and newly drafted Smith. These players will be defensive ends in the base 4-3 defense but will drop back into linebacker roles when the defensive is in a 3-4 set.
When the Jaguars line up in a 3-4 formation, linebackers Jack and Schobert will be in the middle with defensive ends Allen and Chaisson filling the outside roles. When in a 4-3 set, that linebacker group might be the best in the NFL. If Smith develops during the year he could be the third option at end or outside linebacker.
Even though the Jaguars’ defense wasn’t very good last year, their linebacker corps played at a high level and was one of the team’s few bright spots. After their offseason additions, the unit should be a strength.