The Falcons continue to signal a personnel shift toward players who have shown well in 3-4 fronts, signing a former Kansas City Chief to a multi-year deal. It's not a cheap one.
Tyson Jackson’s deal with the #Falcons is for $25M over five years. Wow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2014
Tyson Jackson is a former third overall pick, so it's fair to say he has the pedigree. What he doesn't have is the eye-popping numbers, which may make you wonder about the 27-year-old's likely production in a Falcons jersey. The short answer: He's not a balm for the team's pass rushing woes—a concern with this contract, but we'll return to that—but he should be a panacea for a run defense that was sick as a plague-ridden dog in 2013.
Jackson's a nice fit as a 3-4 end, where he's played with the Chiefs, though it's fair to wonder whether he'd fare better rushing the passer from a different base set. He's not an elite pass rusher or even close to it—those seven career sacks may have tipped you off on that front—so those hoping the first signing would be to bolster that are likely to be disappointed. Aside from perhaps rotating personnel to get them in better positions to rush the passer, the Falcons haven't touched that need just yet.
What he does well is destroy opposing running backs, with a Pro Football Focus grade of +15.5 and a visible impact on film, and he has the size and strength at 6'4" and 296 to potentially be transformative for a lackluster Falcons run defense. Jackson tackles extremely well, fills up gaps and has the side-to-side quickness to hunt a juking back at the line of scrimmage, which are all major pluses. Remember that the Falcons were the 31st-ranked run defense in 2013 and weep anew.
Here's a scouting report from Joel Thorman at SB Nation's Arrowhead Pride:
Tyson Jackson is a big defensive linemen out of LSU. The Chiefs drafted him very high in 2009 (third overall) so expectations were way too high to begin with. The truth is, he's a fine starter but certainly not a star. He can stop the run well, which is what he was asked to do as a defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 defense, but he doesn't offer much of anything in the pass rush department. He rotated out in the Chiefs sub packages. I've wondered if he might be a better fit in a 4-3 defense but the Chiefs have been in a 3-4 since he's been in Kansas City.
In other words, you're not going to be jumping up-and-down over this signing unless you're a fan of stout run defenders, but it's a solid play by the Falcons to address a major and underrated need. We'll have to hope Mike Nolan can coax more out of Jackson in the pass rush department, but even if he's one dimensional, he should be an asset. It will be fascinating to see how Nolan deploys his personnel in the year ahead, and what this signing means for the Falcons' draft plans.
My only concern right now is how the contract is structured. Five years and $25 million is a lot for a pure run-stopper, so unless the Falcons are taking the bulk of the cap hit next year when they have loads of space, I can't in good conscience say this is a great deal.
What do you think of the Tyson Jackson signing for the Falcons?