The Jacksonville Jaguars made it a point of emphasis to upgrade the inside linebacker spot this offseason. First, they signed Foyesade Oluokun in free agency and later drafted Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma in rounds one and three, respectively. Oluokun and Lloyd will tentatively start in Week 1 while Muma’s role seems to be less defined. However, head coach Doug Pederson says that it will be sorted out during training camp.
Pederson met with the local media Monday and was asked about Muma’s role this upcoming season. He likes what the rookie linebacker is doing but says that it will come down to how he and others fare in training camp.
"Obviously, the inside linebacker spot, special teams player, versatile, can run. Again, a young player who’s picking up the defense, has only been with us a couple of weeks with guys in his position too. It’ll come down to when they put the pads on and training camp and just see the physicality with these guys. But he’s doing a really nice job. He’s a smart kid."
Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell will be running a 3-4 defense, meaning that there will just be two inside linebackers. Oluokun will take on starting spot and Lloyd will get the other one by virtue of having been the higher pick in the player selection meeting. Here’s the whole exchange in case you want to take a look at it.
The Jaguars will play LB Chad Muma if he makes noise in training camp
Pederson is right not to get ahead of himself. As he noted, Muma and other rookies have been with the team for just a few weeks, so making any projections right now is premature. Training camp will give the coaching staff an opportunity to see what his strengths and weaknesses are. Once the Jags know what the former Wyoming Cowboy can do will help them find a role for him in 2022.
Right now, there are two different ways to look at the Jaguars’ decision to take Muma in the third round. On one hand, they couldn’t pass up the chance to select one of the top linebacker prospects. The other side of the coin is that they had already drafted Lloyd in the first round, so it might have been unnecessary.
Either way, Muma is currently on the roster and the Jaguars’ brass will have to decide what to do with him. If he impresses in training camp, they will have no choice but to give him playing time. Also, it wouldn’t be optimal but there’s the chance he outplays Lloyd. The front office drafted Lloyd in the first round because they see him as a player that could contribute right off the gate but if Muma is the better player, they might be inclined to give him the nod. Keep in mind that this is just a hypothetical scenario but that’s why Pederson says they need to see what they can do.
Regardless of the role Muma ultimately gets, it looks like inside linebacker could be a position of strength for the Jags this offseason, and that’s something they feel good about.