Some would look at new Falcons defensive end Tyson Jackson’s draft position and think he hasn’t lived up to expectations. As the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, Jackson hasn’t posted the kind of numbers expected with such a draft position, but at 27, you might say he’s entering the prime of his career as he joins the Falcons.
While speaking with the media on Wednesday, Jackson wouldn’t say that exactly, but his 2013 season suggests it. He established a career high in sacks with four and he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 3-4 end against the run. He joined the Chiefs in ’09 after four seasons at LSU as a 4-3 defensive end and it took some time for him to acclimate to a new position, but he believes he’s coming to the Falcons as one of the better players in the league at what he does.
“It took me a year or two to really understand (the 3-4 scheme), but I feel like I perfected it and I became one of the better defensive ends in the league in a 3-4 defense,” Jackson said.
New Falcons teammate and former Chiefs teammate Jon Asamoah, who faced Jackson daily in practices in Kansas City, called Jackson one of the best run defenders in the league and Jackson said stopping the run still has to be one of the top focuses on defenses, even though the NFL has placed a higher emphasis on passing in recent seasons.
“It’s simple, you’ve got to stop the run in order to get after the quarterback,” he said. “So we’re going to start taking care of that first and we’ll see what it does from there.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has run a variety of schemes in the NFL and he has experience coaching a 4-3 as well as a 3-4. The Falcons defense ran hybrids of both schemes last season and while there has been talk in the media of the Falcons converting to a 3-4 full-time in 2014, no one knows for sure except Nolan, head coach Mike Smith and the defensive staff.
No matter the plan, Jackson thinks he’s a good fit in Atlanta and the team’s past success had a lot to do with choosing the Falcons when they came calling on the first day of free agency.
“Looking at what they’ve done in the past and how close they’ve been, I felt I could be a good addition to the team and help bring them a step closer to the ultimate goal,” Jackson said.