I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 23rd-ranked player: defensive end Tyson Jackson.
To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 52/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 58/100
Teams he is starter: 13 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 1 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 22 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +3
Jackson was one of the Falcons big, splash signings at the outset of free agency this year. He was brought in likely because he is an experienced 3-4 defensive end that he can beef up the Falcons run defense.
Jackson had a slow start to his career, and it would not be unfair to call him one of the bigger draft busts in recent memory. The Kansas City Chiefs envisioned their own version of Richard Seymour when they selected him third overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Jackson never lived up to that billing, struggling during his first two seasons when he got on the field. But things started to click by 2011 and he started to carry his own weight.
Now Jackson comes to Atlanta, where he’s presumably expected to be a bridge until players like Malliciah Goodman and Ra’Shede Hageman are ready to take on his role. The five-year contract he signed with the Falcons make it so that it’s unlikely he’ll make it to the third season when his cap hit bloats to $6.35 million.
In the meantime, the Falcons will likely expect Jackson to add value by his ability to shield linebackers from blockers and clog running lanes. His pass-rush ability is limited due to a lack of quickness and limited array of moves.
Ideally, and this was the case in Kansas City, he’ll be pulled off the field in nickel situations. Unfortunately, unless defensive tackle Corey Peters is healthy for most of the year, the Falcons may give Jackson a significant portion of pass-rush snaps because there may not be better options right now. Jackson would likely play inside in a four-man front next to Jonathan Babineaux in those situations, where perhaps what limited quickness he does possess might be functional against slow-footed guards.
But essentially Jackson is nothing more than a highly-paid role player, that is a good enough run stopper that he adds some value in a 3-4 scheme, but not enough where he is going to be as an essential piece of a good defense.