So there seem to be 3 consensus first-round inside linebacker prospects this year: UCLA Myles Jack, Notre Dame Jaylon Smith and Alabama's Reggie Ragland.
Jack suffered a knee injury in September. I don't recall that it was an ACL tear, but rather a torn meniscus. But assuming the usual 9-month recovery time that generally is the case with knee injuries, he should be on pace to return June-ish, so probably the start of training camp in late July is fairly realistic. The reports after the injury said 4-6 months, so there's at least the possibility that Jack is ready to go by his pro day some time in April. We'll see.
Smith had ACL and MCL tear in his bowl game, which probably might mean that 9-month recovery time indicates that he won't be back til October. Given his top-level athleticism, maybe he's one of those freaks that returns on the field after 6 months, but if we use Todd Gurley as our litmus test...Gurley tore ACL in mid-November but didn't really get work with the Rams until mid-September. That was a 10-month turnaround. So again, the same for Smith means that probably best case scenario is that he begins 2016 on the PUP and misses the first 6 weeks.
Meanwhile you have Ragland, who is healthy and should be ready to go Day 1 in May rookie minicamps after he is drafted.
Falcons obvious need is taking a middle linebacker in Rd 1, so who do you guys lean towards?
Jack played for LB coach Jeff Ulbrich at UCLA, so there is clearly familiarity there and should make a relatively smooth transition once he's healthy to play. Jack is the smallest of the group (6-1/245), but the most gifted in coverage (which was an obvious weakness for the Falcons).
Smith might be the most talented physically and has the size and speed (6-3/245) you're looking for. BUt may be the least polished of the group.
Ragland is the most physical vs. the run (6-2/250) and is probably the steady eddy of the group. Alabama often utilized the 4-3 under scheme we deploy as our scheme, so there shouldn't be a huge learning curve for him, but he's probably the least dynamic in coverage and is probably a better fit (as most Alabama LBs are) as a 3-4 inside LB than a rangy 4-3 MLB.
It's January, and obviously we'll learn a lot more about each of these guys in the next 3 months but I'm curious where you guys stand on this issue. Do you go with the upside vs. the immediate contributor, and how do these ILB prospects stack up as far as that goes.
Is there another guy you have your eye on that doesn't have any of these issues (e.g. Ohio State's Darron Lee?).
All I know is that I can't begin another season with Paul Worrilow starting for the Falcons at MLB. Epic Fail on the part of Dan Quinn if that happens.
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