Jaguars training camp: Why Yannick Ngakoue will win Defensive Player of the Year and more notes
The Jaguars have an underrated superstar on defense, plus O-line issues and more from Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, FL. -- Savvy veterans don't easily throw around high praise, even for teammates.
In May, I told Jackson his defense has a chance to be as good as the 2015 Broncos defense he was a part of, a defense that led Denver to a Super Bowl victory. But, I told Jackson, you don't have a Von Miller on this defense.
"Yes, we do," Jackson said. He pointed across the room at Ngakoue, the third-year Jaguars defensive end.
This week, during a camp visit with the Jaguars, Campbell was just as effusive in his praise of Ngakoue.
"As he continues to develop, I look forward to being able to tell my kids I played with that guy," Campbell said.
That's why I think Ngakoue will be this year's Defensive Player of the Year, beating out guys like Miller, a player he's admired for some time and a man he's spent time with this offseason to pick his brain in an attempt to join him as an elite edge rusher.
"That's one of the goals this season," Ngakoue said Monday.
In his first two seasons in the league, Ngakoue has 20 sacks, and even more impressive, he's forced 10 fumbles already in his career. That's the Von Miller way: sack, fumble, game over.
Coming into the league in 2016 as a third-round pick out of Maryland, Ngakoue plays with a big chip on his shoulder, striving to prove he's an elite player.
"He's got a real big one (chip)," Campbell said. "But that's what makes him tick. It's always right there on his sleeve or in his heart. It's what helps him make plays."
"I was counted out," Ngakoue said. "All 32 teams, they looked at me and said I wasn't good enough until the third round. I just wanted to show to them and prove to them I am a first-round talent. I feel like I've been doing that the past two years. This year is going to be even better."
His work ethic is second to none on the Jaguars roster. His film study of fellow defensive ends -- and other former NFL greats -- is a constant as he looks for the tricks to being great.
With those 20 sacks in two seasons, including a trip to the Pro Bowl last season, he's now a marked man. That means protections sliding more in his direction and the double-teams. He's ready for it.
"I'm gunning for them too," Ngakoue said. "You have to be able to stop me. You can gun for me all you want. The greats do it at a consistent level all the time. We just talked about Von. Von's a guy who consistently gets 10 sacks each and ever year. Guys know he's a great pass rusher. You have to be able to stop it."
Like Miller, stopping him won't be easy this year. He doesn't have a sack number in mind, but I think he can get 15-17 sacks this season on his way to being the Defensive Player of the Year.
On a team with star corner Jalen Ramsey, who is also a candidate for DPOY, as well as Campbell, who was runner-up last year, Ngakoue could end up being the star of stars this season.
"He's the most underrated player in the league right now," Campbell said.
Come January, that won't be the case anymore.
Ramsey, Fowler suspensions behind Jaguars
Don't expect much lingering impact over the suspensions of corner Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler last week.
"We've squashed that right away," Campbell said.
Ramsey was suspended for his practice-field outburst after Fowler and Ngakoue got into a near fight on the practice field that ended with some media members sending the footage out via Twitter. Ramsey didn't like the media doing so, and laid into them with a profanity-filled tirade. That didn't go over well since the daughter of Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin was on the field with a family from his Jay Fund Charity -- including children -- at the time of the incident.
Then last week, Ramseyin a GQ article that had his name gong viral for a few days.
"That's just Jalen being Jalen," Campbell said. "But he backs it up."
"If you can back it up, why not say it?" Ngakoue said.
Team officials were not happy with any of the stuff that happened last week, which is why the two were suspended, but they, like the players, have moved on.
Ramsey won't meet with the media until later this week, but you can bet when he does he isn't backing down from any of the comments he made. Nor should he.
Line issues for Jaguars offense
One of the concerns of the Jaguars the first two weeks has to be left tackle Cam Robinson. Now in his second season after being a starter as a rookie, Robinson has struggled so far in two games.
The problem has been technique, and it's something that's carried over from a year ago. If he can't play better, the Jaguars will have to help him in passing situations, which will limit what they can do as an offense.
The projected starting line has not worked together in a preseason game yet, with right tackle Jeremy Parnell missing both games and left guard Andrew Norwell missing one. There is a chance center Brandon Linder could miss this week's game after tweaking a knee last week. So even if Parnell and Norwell return this week, which is likely, the starting five might not get time in the preseason, which is another concern to go along with the poor play of Robinson so far.
All the talk out there about the Jaguars possibly trading for Teddy Bridgewater needs to be put to rest. They have no interest at all.
Blake Bortles is their starter, and they think he's plenty good enough to get them to a Super Bowl.
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