Yannick Ngakoue had a huge rookie season in 2016.
In 2017, the former Maryland defensive end appears ready to build off of that success.
Ngakoue was selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars went heavy on defense in the first three rounds as they selected cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jacks in the first two rounds before grabbing the Maryland star.
In 16 games (15 starts), Ngakoue registered 22 tackles, four forced fumbles, eight sacks, two defended passes, and an interception. To put that into perspective, Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa had 10.5 sacks for the San Diego Chargers.
The former Terp tallied a sack in each of the last two games against the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
Jacksonville opened up their preseason schedule against the New England Patriots this past Thursday. In the 31-24 win, Ngakoue registered three tackles, one of which was a sack.
Ngakoue lined up at defensive end and nearly fell to the turf at the line of scrimmage. However, he was able to stay upright and ran right for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the sack.
The play displayed several of the key attributes that Ngakoue possesses that made him so successful at Maryland and now at the NFL level.
The former Friendship Collegiate Academy (D.C.) standout nearly was knocked off the ball immediately, but displayed great perseverance to keep his head during the play. His speed allowed him to make up that second or two that he lost while nearly falling to the turf and ultimately was able to get Garoppolo in his grasp.
Ngakoue may not rack up a ton of tackles, but he’s really found a niche as a pass rusher off the edge. The Jaguars did sign Calais Campbell in the offseason, but Ngakoue is way too talented not to still garner considerable playing time.
While it’s just one preseason game, it appears that Ngakoue is primed for another strong season in 2017.