2 Jaguars studs crack PFF's list of top-32 linebackers for 2024

• Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun were good enough to appear in PFF's top-32 list of linebackers in 2024.
Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to bounce back after a disappointing end to 2023. Their defense, in particular, struggled toward the end of the season. On the bright side, they have enough players in place to steer the ship in the right direction. Two of them, Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd, just earned recognition from Pro Football Focus.

Gordon McGuinness of PFF included Oloukon and Lloyd in his list of the top 32 linebackers in the NFL right now. Here's his reasoning for placing the former at No. 16.

"Oluokun has enjoyed the two best seasons of his career since signing with the Jaguars. He earned PFF grades above 70.0 as a run defender, as a pass-rusher and in coverage in 2023. His 21 quarterback pressures last season were the second most in a season for his career."

And here's what McGuiness had to say about Lloyd, who landed at No. 17.

"The 2022 first-round draft pick took a nice step forward in 2023, seeing his PFF coverage grade improve from 32.4 as a rookie to 67.8. He stood out in run defense, where his 90.3 PFF grade was the fourth-best mark among linebackers."

It's worth noting that the Jaguars weren't the only team who had two linebackers made the cut. The Chicago Bears (T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds), the Kansas City Chiefs (Drue Tranquill, Nick Bolton), and the New York Jets (Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley) also had two players on the list.

All things considered, it's good to see Jacksonville represented, which hasn't always been the case. In fact, outside linebacker Josh Allen and defensive tackle Arik Armstead also made the cut on the lists for their respective positions. Going back to Oluokun and Lloyd, the Jags have a pair of studs.

Oluokun, a sixth-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, signed a three-year deal worth $45 million in 2022. While he isn't particularly great in coverage, he excels against the run and making splash plays. However, he's developed into one of the team's biggest locker room voices, getting named captain in both of his two seasons in Jacksonville. The team's brass likes the Yale native so much that they just gave him an extension in the offseason.

Lloyd, for his part, was a first-round pick in 2021. While he had ups and downs as a rookie, he also showcased the talent that made him a key cog on Utah's defense. The former Ute didn't make nearly enough big plays in 2023 as he did as a rookie but was definitely more consistent. He's next expected to have a breakout season and is off to a great start, showing up in great shape at OTAs.

The Jaguars will be counting on Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun

As productive as Oluokun and Lloyd were in 2023, they weren't nearly good enough to overcome the Jaguars' shortcomings. The defense, in particular, ranked 17th in points scored in the league. They couldn't stop opponents from running the ball at will and torching the secondary on nearly a weekly basis. Not surprisingly, the top brass dismissed defensive coordinator Miike Caldwell after the season ended. To replace him, the Jags hired Ryan Nielsen, who's expected to right the ship.

Schematically speaking, Nielsen will switch to a 4-3 defense, so instead of using four linebackers, they'll have three in the base formation. Then again, teams favor the nickel formation nowadays, so Jacksonville will have just two linebackers and three cornerbacks for most of the game. That means that Lloyd and Oloukun will get considerable playing time.

The Jaguars were the favorites to win the AFC South last year. They ultimately crumbled to the weight of expectations. Fortunately, they have what it needs to get back on track. And if they take control of the division, it will be possible thanks to players like Oluokun and Lloyd.

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