How Brandon Linder Fits with the Jacksonville Jaguars

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How Brandon Linder Fits with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Coming into this draft, just about everyone knew that the Jacksonville Jaguars needed to find a way to improve their offensive line.

Last season, that offensive line finished as the NFL's worst-ranked run-blocking unit, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

General manager David Caldwell attempted to address the situation in free agency when he inked former Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles to a lucrative five year, $30 million deal, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Despite bringing one of Peyton Manning's faithful protectors into the fold, there was still a demand to draft another top-notch guard.

The problem at guard may have been solved on Day 2 when the team selected Brandon Linder out of the University of Miami with pick No. 93.

Linder is a 6'6", 311-pounder who does a solid job working in the trenches, thanks to his technique. He's a guy who won't blow you away on tape but is consistently able to stand his ground and open up holes in the ground game.

One of the best qualities that he has going for him is that he's extremely durable.

Starting all 13 games during his senior season—10 at guard and three at right tackle—he was a fixture for a Hurricanes offense that averaged a staggering 425.8 total yards per game in 2013.

Channeling our inner Sherlock Holmes, you have to wonder if Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch had anything to do with this pick.

Fisch was the Hurricanes offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2011 until 2012. That means he has a level of familiarity with Linder's game that most scouts and coaches aren't privy to.

That also means that Linder is comfortable playing in Fisch's zone-blocking scheme, making him an easy plug-and-play option for the team's shoddy offensive line.

Trading both a fourth- and sixth-round pick to move up and select this guy out of Miami, there's no question Caldwell knows exactly what he's getting into.

But it's still worth mentioning that there are some red flags when it comes to his ability and also how he projects long-term.

The crew over at WalterFootball.com had Linder ranked as the 14th best guard entering the draft. One of the reasons why was because of his poor showing at the 2014 Senior Bowl:

At the Senior Bowl, Linder was one of the worst offensive linemen. He really struggled all week and was dominated in the one-on-ones. Linder doesn't have a bad skill set, but needs to be coached up. He didn't make up for it at the Combine.

They raise an incredibly valid point. Despite having all of that physical talent, being coached up the right way could be just what this young man needs in order to transform into a quality starter.

Otherwise, if he somehow slips through the cracks and ends up plodding along, the issues that got exposed at the Senior Bowl may end up putting a damper on his NFL career.

My biggest issue with Linder is that he doesn't show a ton of explosion when the ball is snapped. Even though he's effective, he struggles figuring out a way to use his impressive size to go out and blow up interior defenders.

But as NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki pointed out, he has a "bulldog’s mentality." When a player competes like that on every snap, it's hard to ever count them out.

Projecting what the Jaguars offensive line will look like right now, you would have to think Linder will be the team's starting right guard when training camp gets underway.

Between his experience working with Coach Fisch and the fact that he was a third-round pick, it's hard to imagine the coaching staff using him in any other capacity.

 

All CFB stats and information courtesy of Sports-Reference.com and HurricaneSports.com, unless noted otherwise. 

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