Falcons Sign Tyson Jackson
Atlanta also signed defensive tackle Paul Soliai, which is a good indication that the team is making a switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Jackson is familiar with the 3-4 from his days on the Chiefs. The Falcons figure to draft a pass rusher to complete the transition.
Jackson played 509 snaps last season, less than half of the team’s snaps, but he still played a role in the defense. His +14.6 overall grade ranked 14th among all 3-4 DEs in 2013. However, that grade doesn’t tell the whole story. His run defense grade (+15.5) masked other flaws in his game, namely rushing the passer (-3.3).
Jackson’s fifth season was his best no matter how you slice it, though. During his rookie season, Jackson had a PFF grade of -41, by far the worst among all 3-4 DEs. He was negative again (-1.9) in 2010 before making a jump in 2011 (+8.6). However, he took a step back in 2012 (-9.6) before finding his footing again in 2013.
While this suggests Jackson has been an up-and-down player, he has been consistent with one thing: run defense. Stopping the run has been the best part of his game ever since his second year in the league.
In terms of fantasy value, not much changes as a result of this move. Jackson didn’t finish 2013 as a top-70 DE option in IDP leagues, and his name still should not be on your radar come draft day. While he graded well in the run game, he doesn’t register enough tackles to justify a fantasy start; he recorded 29 in 2013, or fewer than two per game.
He may see more snaps in Atlanta than he did in Kansas City, but his ceiling is capped because of his inability to rush the passer consistently. He has just 10 sacks in his entire career. To put that in perspective, 15 DEs had at least 10 sacks in 2013 alone.
Perhaps new coaches, teammates, and a “fast track” in the Georgia Dome will help him rush the passer, but don’t hold your breath. After five years in the league, it’s fair to say we have a solid read on Jackson’s strengths and weaknesses.
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