Short of suffering through a significant slide in production, there is nothing that second-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will do this year that will surprise the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Nothing Ngakoue does this year will surprise NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager all that much either.
Schrager has been tracking the Ngakoue bandwagon since his brother in law wondered why he wasn’t being talked about as a potential first-round pick prior to the 2016 NFL Draft and has suddenly jumped aboard in a big way.
For a segment on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football show, Schrager broke down his five non-skill position breakout players for the 2017 season and Ngakoue came in at No. 3.
As you can see from the video, Schrager points out that Ngakoue is coming off a truly remarkable season, one that put him in the same company as two of the game’s most disruptive players.
In addition to Ngakoue, the only players to record eight or more sacks and four or more forced fumbles last year were Khalil Mack of the Raiders and Cameron Wake of the Dolphins.
That truly is elite company and it’s worth noting that Wake, who actually had 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles, produced his numbers while playing just 51-percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
That’s important because there’s a chance that with the addition of Calais Campbell, Ngakoue could actually see his playing time drop a bit from where it was a year ago.
Ngakoue played 65-percent of the snaps last year and will probably be part of a two-man platoon yet again this season, but with the right matchups, he can still make a major impact. At least as a pass rusher.
Though he has ideal size for an edge rusher, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Ngakoue still has a ways to go to become an every-down player because he’s still not stout enough at the point of attack to be a sound run stopper.
The Buccaneers have a similar situation with a second-year player of their own, Noah Spence, who could be in for a breakout season of his own. As far as Schrager is concerned, though, Ngakoue’s a step ahead of him.
And most everyone else as well. There’s little question then that Ngakoue will be one of the Jaguars players worth watching closely once the season begins in a few days.