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GM David Caldwell: Jack worth risk


JACKSONVILLE – The time was right for risk.

That's how General Manager David Caldwell viewed the Jaguars' second-round selection in 2016 NFL Draft – that the time was right and the risk was palpable.

That's why Myles Jack now is a member of the Jaguars.

Jack, a linebacker widely considered one of the elite talents in the '16 draft, joined the Jaguars early Friday evening when the team selected him with the No. 5 selection of Round 2 – the No. 36 selection overall.

Jack, once widely projected by analysts to be the Jaguars' selection at No. 5 in Round 1, slipped from the first round in one of the most-documented, emotional stories of Day 1. The slip was because of a knee injury sustained last September.

"We want to be great, and we have to take chances," Caldwell at EverBank Field said shortly after the selection Friday. "We've been pretty conservative in our time here with our philosophy in the draft and some of our free-agent acquisitions.

"There comes a point in time where we have to close the talent gap. You're not going to do that without taking risks. This is a calculated risk. … Hopefully he's here for 10-to-12 years."

The Jaguars traded the Nos. 38 and 146 selections in this draft to the Baltimore Ravens for the 36th selection. Those were second- and fifth-round selections, respectively. Caldwell said his belief was the Ravens had multiple teams trying to trade for the selection.

There have been reports that the knee injury could limit Jack over the long term, though most media reports indicate it shouldn't be an issue for the short term.

Jack sustained a torn lateral meniscus in September, declaring for the draft to forgo his final year of eligibility. The concern over Jack's knee reportedly stems not as much from the meniscus, but from what is referred to as an osteochondral defect, the effects of which could force surgery a few years into the future.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley called the selection "exciting."

"We were just really intrigued by his skill set and how he plays the game," Bradley said. "The way I looked at it was he's a pretty good player, a player I saw on tape and a player I worked out. When they say, 'Hey, there's a strong possibly we could draft him, I was ecstatic.' That's all I needed to hear."

Caldwell, who had said Thursday that Jack was still on the Jaguars' draft board despite the injury, said Jack would have been a consideration in Round 1 had the Jaguars traded back from No. 5 – where they took Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey – into the mid-teens.

Caldwell called the debate within the organization over whether to take Jack "pretty spirited."

"But everybody's very level-headed and we're all pulling in the same direction to make this a great organization and great franchise," Caldwell said. "We make calculated decisions and this is one where we felt like the risk was worth the reward. Time will tell."

Bradle and Caldwell both said a pre-draft workout the two put Jack through in Los Angeles made them more comfortable with the decision.

"It was a pretty rigorous workout," Bradley said. "It was maybe a different type of workout than we did with traditional linebackers – a lot of quick change in direction, not a lot of rest time. We really tried to strain him to see how he would recover from it. We felt like he did a nice job with that.

"We've had multiple reports with people who are dealing with him directly and we've had pretty good reports coming back."

Bradley also coached in Seattle with UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora in 2009, and said he spoke to Mora often about Jack.

Taking the injury out of the equation, Jack's credentials are that of an early first-round selection.

"I'm just really excited about having Myles be there for us," Bradley said.

With the 36th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected UCLA linebacker Myles Jack.

Jack is considered one of the best pass-coverage linebackers to enter the NFL in recent memory and has played cornerback in college. He also has been considered as a strong safety prospect in the NFL, but Caldwell and Bradley both said Friday Jack will play linebacker with the Jaguars.

Asked if Jack would play the Leo pass-rushing position or the strong-side Otto position, Caldwell joked that he could play "Lotto," essentially a combination or variation of the positions.

"We'll see how it plays out," Caldwell said. "We have a lot of time."

Bradley said Jack "gives us great versatility."

"We'll play it out," Bradley said. "Let's see how the roles come out. Let's see who's ready to play. But through it all, the 11 guys we put on the field, we should feel good about."

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