The term “freak” gets tossed around liberally during draft time to discuss players who possess exceptional physical traits usually displayed through their play on the football field. For former UCLA Bruin Myles Jack, the freak label may just not cut it (be forewarned, the draft also prompts writer hyperbole).
Although an early season meniscus tear sidelined Jack for the majority of his junior year and virtually all of the pre-draft process, there doesn’t seem to be much pause or skepticism around Jack’s ability to play early in the 2016 NFL season.
A big part of the confidence surrounding Jack may have to do with Todd Gurley’s recovery after a mid-season ACL tear at Georgia and his subsequent rookie-of-the-year campaign for the then St. Louis Rams. Many feel Jack is cut from the same cloth as Gurley. A cloth which has stitched into its fibers the genetics of an elite athlete who was at times baffling in his ability playing in the PAC-12.
After all, he began his time at UCLA playing both sides of the ball at a high level (averaging 5.7 yards per carry and scoring 11 times as a running-back) and doing paradigm shifting things at the linebacker position. The real question teams must ask themselves is whether or not Jack showed enough on the field during his time in college to not have to properly appraise his talents during the pre-draft process.
Myles Jack | LB | UCLA
Tale of the tape:
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 245 lbs.
- Arm: 33 ⅝”
- Hands: 10 ¼”
Pro day results:
- 40 yard dash: N/A
- 3 cone: N/A
- 20 yard shuttle: N/A
- 60 yard shuttle: N/A
- Vert: 40”
- Broad: 10’ 4”
- Bench: N/A
Jack’s athleticism is only part of the story when evaluating him as a prospect. There have been plenty of players who’ve walked through NFL tunnels who checked all the boxes but failed to check the most important one: are you a football player? For Jack, his best answer may be: which one?
As was mentioned in the opening, Jack played both offense and defense in his career at UCLA. While he probably won’t be seeing many handoffs in the NFL, Jack will likely be lining up in a multitude of ways depending on which team picks him. Because he was very likely UCLA’s best athlete, it wasn’t a rare thing to see Jack split out against not only slot receivers, but also legitimate first round pick flankers.
Jack lined up against USC’s Nelson Agholor often when the Bruins played the Trojans in 2014.
While no one would advocate Jack to be a team’s shutdown corner, he showed time and time again not only his ability to play football, but also his coaching staff’s confidence in him. Jack was a regular at slot corner (famously against BYU in 2015) but most teams are probably projecting Jack at his natural position; outside linebacker.
As a linebacker, there are very little question marks in his game despite lining up all over the field. All the linebacker greats relied on instincts as much, or if not more, than their athleticism to be the players they were on a play to play basis. Jack is reactionary and relies on his quick twitch and play recognition skills to make plays against the offense.
There aren’t many instances where Jack is taking false steps or getting himself out of position. In fact, Jack is extremely disciplined in not getting put in a place where he has to rely on recovery speed or agility. Perhaps most of all, Jack is imbued with an incredible motor which defies traditional football endurance. Even after trailing a receiver down the field, Jack is back at it in the box taking on blockers and chasing down runners at full speed.
One underrated and little talked about aspect of Jack’s game is his tenacity and strength when taking on blocks. Jack is a bull even against players much bigger than him. He’s adept at stonewalling tackles and guards advancing to the second level, as well as setting the edge. For a player known so well for finessing receivers in the slot and on the outside, Jack doesn’t rely on taking convenient angles to the ball.
The only thing more difficult than charting Jack’s strengths is identifying his weaknesses while not trying to be nit-picky. The first thing every team must consider with him is the obvious: the injury. Jack hasn’t been seen on the field since September and his limited pro day and cancelled early April individual workout should be enough to be make teams wary about his recovery. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is if Jack will make a full recovery or not.
Another criticism about Jack’s prospects is perhaps a result of his biggest strength. Being UCLA’s most capable athlete, Jack spent a lot of time far away from the ball covering slot receivers and generally being out in space.
When looking at his production, the upside doesn’t seem to match the numbers. Jack never breached the 100 tackle mark at UCLA and was routinely a five-ish tackles per game player. While it may seem logical to explain this away due to his position versatility, it is legitimate to ask whether or not Jack made enough tackles in college to know if he’ll have any issues in the pros.
Lastly, Jack weighed in much heavier at his pro day than many believe he played at. The pro day tally of 245 pounds means that Jack may be lobbying to remain a second level player instead of playing full-time safety in the NFL. An alternative theory could be that he simply didn’t keep himself in proper shape during his time away. Either way, his weight will likely be determined by his next employer and the position they see him playing.
A jack of all trades, and a master of them all to? Myles Jack is the type of prospect that will make scouts, coaches, and everyone involved in player evaluations throw out their preconceptions of what a linebacker prospect is supposed to look like. Linebacker is typically not a premier position NFL teams look at, but every so often a player like Jack changes those priorities.
There’s a strong likelihood the Jacksonville Jaguars will have a shot at drafting Jack based on how the latest mock drafts, rumored team intentions, and cumulative big boards are shaking out. As a possible replacement to the aging Paul Posluszny, he could be evolve into the Bobby Wagner for Jacksonville’s derivative of the Seattle Seahawks' 4-3 under defense.
A duo of Jack and Telvin Smith would make for arguably the league’s most athletic defensive second level. Wherever he ends up, Myles Jack has put his natural talents in a favorable position by never taking plays off, playing with an infectious passion, and being a pleasant surprise play after play.