5 Plays Series, The I-Block: Myles Jack

The “I-Block” is the most coveted Tetris piece. It fills four needs in one, horizontally or vertically. The versatility of the “I-Block” makes it an invaluable building block or the finishing touch on a path to victory.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack plays that same invaluable role on the football field in emphatic fashion. From crushing lineman against the run while staying within the confines of UCLA’s defense to shutting down tight ends and slot receivers in coverage, Jack can do it all.

NFLDraftScout.com lists Myles Jack at 6’1″, 245 pounds which easily passes any size barometers that teams will have for their linebackers. The tape he puts out is exciting and it’s easy to understand why NFL teams are coveting him so early in the draft process. Here are five plays that display Jack’s game

1. Closing Speed and Burst

Myles Jack’s athleticism is hard to ignore. In a league that heavily, heavily features the pass linebackers that can close on running backs, receivers, and tight ends in the open field are highly touted commodities. Here Jack is lined up as the WILL in UCLA’s nickel package. He seamlessly transitions to the slot receiver in the open field and drags him down for a minimal gain.

Jack’s instincts in coverage are also on display here. He quickly reads and diagnoses the out route and makes a play on the ball.

2. Rare Coverage Ability

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How many linebackers in the coming draft class (or even in the NFL) are capable of making this play? His ability to track the ball and pluck it out of the air in stride is rare. An underrated aspect of the play is his patience and understanding playing man coverage with two safeties over the top.

He knows there’s no need to play the ball in an overzealous manner and smoothly reacts to the receivers break down the field. After he catches the ball his instincts as a runner take over. Jack performed well at running back when the Bruins asked him to do so; he’s a natural with the ball in his hands and maximizes the potential yardage after the interception.

3. Filling Against the Run

If you’re going to play middle linebacker in the NFL, toughness and a willingness to come downhill and attack blockers is a key trait to display. While offensive lineman will fear Jack for his speed rather than his size, being able bully offensive linemen in a phone booth is definitely a maximizing ability. Paired with his extraordinary athleticism and coverage ability and Jack quickly comes to form as one of the more complete linebackers in this class.

4. Range Against the Run

His athleticism translates against the run as well. While he can act as a cog in the middle of the defense and plug rushing lanes up the middle, he also has the athletic ability to be a “run and chase” linebacker. Jack primarily plays strongside linebacker, middle linebacker, and slot cornerback in UCLA’s defense, but he shows traits that project to weakside linebackers as well. The ability to hunt in the open field is and stay disciplined amongst the frenetic chaos in front of him is definitely one of them.

5. Double Edged Sword of Aggression

At times Jack’s aggressive nature on the football field can get the best of him. He’ll bite on run fakes that leave the middle of the field vulnerable to opposing running backs and tight ends. It’s a negative trait, but it comes with the territory of him being a middle and strongside linebacker in UCLA’s defense.

Myles Jack really fits into any defense that’s currently being run in the league. In the NFL, he can play middle, strong, and weakside backer. Even when he wasn’t adding tackle numbers to the stat sheet, he acted a vital cog and enforcer in UCLA’s defense as a force player making life easier for his teammates.

If a team has a hole on the second level of their defense, it’d be hard to say no to Myles Jack. He’s one of the “plug and play” linebackers this year and he should hear his name called very early when the first round of the NFL Draft starts in April.

He’s the “I-Block”.

Charles McDonald
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