The upcoming 2016 NFL Draft is filled with defensive talent and with a top-10 selection, the Miami Dolphins will be staring at plenty of names when it comes their time to pick. Whether it's a defensive lineman, cornerback, or even linebacker, Miami will have a tough decision to make. One player that stands out though is Myles Jack, Linebacker from UCLA. With Jaylon Smith out for the the 2016 season, he immediately becomes the top linebacker available.
Jack is a confident person, telling ESPN that it would be a mistake if teams slept on him because of his medical issues. He also told them that he expects to be cleared by March 11 in time for his pro day, which will be held on March 15.
"I don't have any issues, any character flaws, I haven't done anything bad," Jack said. "Really, the medical question is the only question people have. I feel like I can erase all that in my pro day. That would be a mistake if they slept on me."
Jack only played in three games in 2015 before tearing his anterior meniscus during a practice in September. In October 2015, he announced that he was forgoing his senior season and would enter the NFL Draft.
"It wasn't an easy decision," Jack told ESPN. "It definitely took me time. It was something I slept on a couple nights. For a week or so. I decided being behind in school, being behind physically, I felt like it was the best option for me was to kind of pull out of school and get myself right."
During his sophomore season, he started 13 games and was named second-team All-Conference. As a freshman, he started 11 games at linebacker and one at running back. He was named Pac-12 offensive and defensive freshman of the year by the coaches in the conference.
The scouting report from WalterFootball.com states the following about Jack:
Athletically, Jack is an extremely rare prospect. He has a superb skill set with explosive speed, natural strength, athleticism, agility and quick feet. From an athletic standpoint, he is one of the top outside linebacker prospects to enter the NFL over the last decade. Jack's athletic skill set could end up drawing comparisons to pro linebackers like Thomas Davis.
What makes Jack so special for the next level is his tremendous skills in pass coverage. Jack's ability to thrive in pass coverage is extremely rare and hard to find among college defenders. He is able to provide blanket man coverage on tight ends, backs and even some wide receivers. Jack is also very adept at flipping and running downfield to prevent separation. He also is superb in zone as he reads plays well and closes quickly to make tackles. To top it off, Jack has ball skills and is very good at breaking up completions.
In the ground game, Jack flashes instincts to break into the backfield and disrupt plays. He is quick to diagnosis plays with read-and-react skills. Jack also has explosivity and excellent closing speed. Generally, he takes good angles that, in combination with his other skills, make him an adept pursuit defender. Jack could still stand to get stronger to shed blocks and take them on. Adding power to hold up against downhills runs coming straight at him would make him better as a pro.
The NFL is going to love Jack's ability to defend the pass. He is such a talented coverage linebacker that he has even lined up as a cornerback over slot receivers. Jack should be very helpful in playing man on receiving tight ends and backs out of the backfield. He looks like the best pass-coverage linebacker to enter the NFL since Luke Kuechly in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Jack looks like a perfect fit for a Will (weakside) linebacker in a pro 4-3 defense. His pass-coverage skills and ability to run sideline to sideline make him an ideal fit for that position. In a 3-4 defense, he could play inside linebacker. In either system, Jack should be a three-down starter and difference-maker.
With there being a good chance that Jack is on the board when the Dolphins make their selection, I thought it would be a good idea to go back and see if there is any correlation to linebackers being selected in the top-10 and success throughout their NFL career. The results I found were surprising.
Dating back to 2000, there have been 18 linebackers selected in the top-10. They are as follows:
Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Barkevious Mingo, Luke Kuechly, Von Miller, Aldon Smith, Rolando McClain, Aaron Curry, Vernon Gholston, Keith Rivers, Jerod Mayo, AJ Hawk, Ernie Sims, Terrell Suggs, Lavar Arrington and Brian Urlacher.
Out of those 18 players and not counting 2015 since it's still too early to judge, I would say that 11 of had/have successful careers and had/have made an impact on their team. Only five - Mingo, Curry, Gholston, Rivers and Sims - haven't made a huge impact. I did include McClain in that 11 and yes, he did struggle in Oakland but has seemed to turn his career around in Dallas.
Those results show that history is on the side of the team that drafts a linebacker in the top-10 of the draft. Does that mean Mike Tannenbaum and the Dolphins will select Jack if he is available to them? To start piecing that part of the puzzle together, I looked at every team that Tannenbaum worked for and their first-round draft history. He worked for the New Orleans Saints in 1994, Cleveland Browns in 1995, the Saints in 1996 and then the New York Jets from 1997-2012.
With the Jets, he was Director of Player Contracts in 1997 and was promoted to Assistant General Manager and Director of Pro Personnel in 2001. In 2004, he was elevated to the role of Assistant General Manager and Senior Vice President of Football Operations before taking on the role of General Manager prior to the 2006 season.
In 1995, the Browns selected linebacker Craig Powell 30th overall. Then, while he was with the Jets, they drafted James Farrior (8th overall), John Abraham (13th overall), Jonathan Vilma (12th overall) and Vernon Gholston (6th overall).
While he was with the Jets, they had 18 first-round picks including four in 2000 and two in 2008. Over that time, the Jets drafted 11 defensive players, which are sorted as follows: four linebackers, five defensive linemen and two cornerbacks. To narrow it down even more, during his time as general manager from 2006-2012, they had seven first-round draft picks and drafted five defensive players - two defensive linemen, two cornerbacks and one linebacker.
So, yes, the history is there for Tannenbaum to not only select a defensive player in the first round, but also a linebacker. Some may say that Chris Grier is the general manager and that is true. However, they both come from the Bill Parcells' tree and both have similar philosophies. Additionally, Tannenbaum will have major input when they do decide who they are going to draft. At the end of the day, he is going to be the one held responsible and he is going to want to make sure that he feels very comfortable with the pick.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter! Follow @FinsInsider