JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The day before linebacker Myles Jack had to leave the Jacksonville Jaguars on May 8 for a mandatory month-long ban, he tried to articulate just how frustrated he was at the NFL’s rule that prohibits rookies from participating in OTAs until the current senior class graduates at their school.
"It really sucks," the Jaguars’ second-round pick said. "That’s the best way I can put it."
The rule, introduced in the early 1990s, impacts rookies who attend schools on a trimester or quarter system. Most schools are on semesters and the senior class has already graduated by now -- for example, Florida State, where first-round pick Jalen Ramsey played, had commencements April 29-30 -- but UCLA is on a quarter system and the senior class won't graduate until June 10.
That’s four days before the Jaguars’ mandatory minicamp, and it means Jack will miss all 10 of the Jaguars’ OTAs, which begin Monday, May 23. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be studying, staying in touch and trying to absorb as much of the defense as possible over the next month.
According to NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis, there is no limit on a team’s communication with players impacted by the graduation rule. The Jaguars will be in regular contact with Jack, who left the facility with his team iPad loaded with the defensive playbook.
That will be his football lifeline until he’s back in town.
When linebackers coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Todd Wash install a portion of the Jaguars' defense in meetings during OTAs, Jack will be able to watch the same film the players in Jacksonville are seeing.
Each OTA is filmed, just like a normal practice, and Jack will be able to watch it as soon as it is uploaded.
Saleh, Wash and Jack will have regular conversations, too, so he can get feedback on any questions.
Even with all that help, Jack will be significantly behind the rest of the team when he does return to Jacksonville for the minicamp.
"I think I’m missing like a month and some change, and you can’t get that time back," Jack said. "I’m going to make the most of it, and hopefully when I come in I’ll have the best idea of the playbook I possibly can so that way they can kind of clean me up and get me right."
Jack was able to benefit from being the only linebacker at the Jaguars’ rookie orientation. They put him at middle linebacker so he could get a head start on learning the entire defense, and he got some rigorous one-on-one coaching from Saleh.
Jack said that intense work, though it was only over two days, will certainly help while he’s gone.
"It really just comes down to applying yourself," Jack said. "I take concepts I learned in college and try to switch it over to their language. It’s similar things, it’s just everyone says stuff in a different way. So trying to translate it to what they’re saying and then learn it, write it down, study it while I’m watching the [NBA] playoffs.
"The coaches make it really easy because they’ll set a play and show how it’s supposed to work, and then they’ll show me the good and bad -- the flaws and good stuff that can come out of the play -- so I can learn what to do and what not to do. They’re making it really easy for me, and I’m picking it up, which is good."