JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On paper, middle linebacker isn’t a huge need for the Jaguars, especially at pick No. 7.
However, Devin White may end up being the best defensive player in the entire 2019 NFL draft.
White is a tackling machine. In his last two seasons at LSU, he had a total of 256 tackles. In 2018, he was the Butkus Award winner as college football’s best linebacker.
At the NFL combine, White checked in at 6-0 and 237 pounds, and ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. He also had a 39.5 inch vertical jump.
Drafting White would give the Jaguars arguably the most talented trio of linebackers in the NFL. Two years ago, Telvin Smith was a Pro Bowler and Myles Jack’s best football should still be ahead of him.
This move would also give the Jaguars some flexibility moving forward. Jack will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Smith has a $12.8 million dollar cap hit in 2020. Drafting White would give the Jaguars a security blanket should they choose to move on from either Jack or Smith following the 2019 season.
White’s role for the 2019 season would be an interesting one. In base downs he’d likely step into the middle linebacker role that was filled by Jack last season. This would shift Jack to playing strong side linebacker. But in nickel situations (which the Jaguars play over 60% of the time) there are only two linebackers on the field.
The competition between White, Jack and Smith to fill those two spots would be intense. It’s a problem that all other 31 NFL teams would love to have.