He is the most talented linebacker in the draft, an athletic specimen who at UCLA also thrived at running back. As a true freshman in 2013, he was named the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive rookie of the year.
He has been described as a “sentient avalanche” based on how he moves through space on the football field, and two weeks before the NFL Draft was a consensus top-5 pick.
But because of lingering knee concerns, and a last-minute admission that he could need microfracture surgery down the road, on the day of the NFL Draft Myles Jack is now expected to fall out of the top 10.
On Thursday night in Chicago, teams picking early in the first round will be faced with a difficult decision with Jack still on the board: either use an early first-round pick on a player whose knee could let down a franchise, or pass on a player whose athleticism and skill could change one.
Jack knows all about tough decisions. In September, after season-ending meniscus surgery only three games into his junior season, he made the gutsy choice to drop out of UCLA, hire an agent, and spend all his time preparing for the NFL. He moved to Phoenix, changed his diet, and spent his time in relative solitude focusing only on his recovery.
“It was definitely lonely,” Jack told Business Insider at a promotional event for Speed Stick in early April. “But it was what I wanted. I took a professional approach to it, I really just focused on myself and focused on my body.”
What did you do when you weren’t at the gym?
“Trained and went home, trained and went home, trained and went home,” Jack said. “I’m cool with that life. I’m a boring person naturally. Video games, I got two dogs, I just kick it with them, take them on walks, watch movies. I’m a square, there’s not much to me.”
When BI caught up with Jack, he gave off the cool confidence of a 20 year old who knows he is soon to be a top pick, not to mention a millionaire. He joked with reporters, tossed around mini footballs with the increasingly hyper kids in attendance. If there were doubts about his knee, or lingering worries about his decision to leave school, he didn’t show it.
“I’d say it’s still a work in progress,” he said of his knee, not offering a percentage. “I’m not worried about the knee at all.”
Although he did not work out at the NFL Draft Combine, he thrived at his pro day back at UCLA, despite some inevitable rust. His broad jump was 10 feet, 4 inches. His vertical was 40 inches. Both are among the top tallies by linebackers in this year’s draft.
At the event, Jack said he felt ready for the next level but is expecting some challenges as a rookie.
“I know what I can control is my effort, and how hard I go. My coachability. If I’m able to listen and just learn on the fly and just be very adaptable, I think it will be fine,” he said. “No matter how high you get picked you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to mess up. If you can learn and get over your rookie bumps, you’re gonna be alright.”
Do you ever consider being a rushing back in the NFL?
“I definitely believe I can carry the ball in the NFL,” Jack said. “But there are guys that are on pay roll to do that. I’m just going to stay in my lane, stick to my job and focus on the team.”
The question now is which team will take the gamble.
After his admission that microfracture surgery could be needed down the road, Jack’s draft stock is falling fast. Recent mock drafts have him going somewhere in the teens; the Giants, who not long ago probably didn’t expect him to be available at No. 10, have reportedly now removed him from their draft board.
“I would understand if I fell,” Jack told the Post on Thursday, already sounding like he has readjusted his expectations. “This is a talented draft class, so if I was to fall, I wouldn’t take it personally.”
Falling into the middle of the first round is not, of course, a travesty, though it could cost him millions. On the bright side, he could be a steal for a team like the Oakland Raiders at No. 14, who would be more than willing to snag an athletic freak — even one with some injury concerns.
“Nobody knows how long anybody is going to play in this league,” he told the Post. “To play three years in this league would be above average.”
Back at the Speed Stick event, Jack is asked repeatedly about whether he regrets his decision to drop out of school and forfeit his eligibility.
“I have no regrets,” he said “I made that decision, I went in head first and just stuck with it. The timing is perfect. The plan worked perfect. I can’t be mad.”
Only time will tell if he feels any differently now.
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