JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and Jaguars analyst Bucky Brooks examine the Jaguars' linebackers in this position-by-position look at the '23 offseason:
Position coach: Bill Shuey (outside linebackers), Tony Gilbert (inside linebacker)
- OLB Josh Allen (17)
- OLB Travon Walker (14)
- OLB Arden Key (3)
- ILB Foye Oluokun (17)
- ILB Devin Lloyd (15)
- ILB Chad Muma (2)
- Shaq Quarterman
- K'Lavon Chaisson
- De'Shaan Dixon
- Jordan Smith
- Caleb Johnson
2022 at a glance: The Jaguars underwent significant change here, with Allen – the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and a starter from 2019-2021 – the lone 2022 starter who was on the roster in 2021. The Jaguars selected Walker, Lloyd and Muma in the 2022 NFL Draft and signed Key and Oluokun as unrestricted free agents in the same offseason to essentially overhaul the position in the first season under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Pederson. Oluokun in his first season with the Jaguars led the NFL in tackles for a second consecutive season and finished with 184 tackles, 128 solo, with 12 tackles for loss, two sacks, nine pressures, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and five passed defensed. Allen led the Jaguars with seven sacks and also had 58 tackles, 36 solo, with 11 tackles for loss – and 22 pressures with four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries with two passes defensed. Walker registered 49 tackles, 24 solo, with five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks – and 10 pressures, with five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, an interception and two passes defensed. Lloyd registered 115 tackles, 59 solo, with three interceptions, eight passes defensed, two pressures and two fumble recoveries. Muma registered 37 tackles, 22 solo, with 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss – and registered three pressures and a pass defensed.
Offseason storyline: The Jaguars were productive enough here last season – and made so many big moves here in the 2022 offseason – that they have been expectedly quiet here this offseason. Key, the only player in the Jaguars' linebacker corps who became an unrestricted free agent following the 2022 season, signed with the Tennessee Titans as a UFA. He had signed a one-year "prove-it" deal as a UFA from the San Francisco 49ers last offseason, emerging as one of the Jaguars' most productive front-seven players. He started three games, playing all 17 regular-season games and two in the postseason. He produced consistent pressure and was third on the team in sacks with 4.5, also registering 27 tackles – 16 solo – with 15 pressures, five tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed. Replacing his productivity – either later in free agency, in the 2023 NFL Draft or from within – will be a storyline moving forward.
Free agents as of March 15: Key (signed with Tennessee Titans).
Bucky Brooks' top three free-agent linebacker prospects:
- Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills (signed with the Chicago Bears)
- Germaine Pratt, Cincinnati Bengals (re-signed with Bengals)
- Bobby Okereke, Indianapolis Colts (signed with New York Giants)
Bucky Brooks' top three collegiate linebacker prospects:
- Nolan Smith, Georgia
- Drew Sanders, Arkansas
- Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Oehser analysis: This was a solid area in 2022, bolstered by the consistency and productivity of Oluokun – who proved one of the best members of perhaps the best free-agent class in franchise history. And while Allen wasn't satisfied with his early-season production, he was strong in the Jaguars' five-game regular-season-ending winning streak with four sacks, nine quarterback hurries and five tackles for loss during that span. Key for this area – and the defense overall – will be the development entering '22 of the '21 rookie class. The Jaguars selected Walker No. 1 overall, Lloyd No. 27 overall and Muma in Round 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. The trio was selected with the idea that they will develop into the core of the defense, and the team needs the players to do so in their second NFL seasons.
Brooks analysis: The Jaguars' linebacker corps is loaded with young, athletic defenders with playmaking potential. Oluokun is a tackling machine with outstanding leadership skills and communication ability. The veteran controls the game from numbers to numbers as a "run-and-chase" defender with A-plus instincts, awareness, and diagnostic skills. Lloyd and Muma flashed big-time talent in 2022, but the rookie mistakes proved costly in key moments. With more experience and skill development, the duo should become effective as interchangeable role players who move around the formation in various sub-packages. Quarterman and Johnson excelled in their roles as special teams bandits.