When Malik Jackson first signed his $85.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars over six years back in 2016, coming off his Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos, I’ll admit I was skeptical. Jackson was able to do his job as a nose tackle that year. So he had to play his role right.
However, it also helps when Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are the guys rushing the passer while the secondary is shutting down receivers. Jackson proved he could fill the role. He didn’t prove he could be an elite playmaker.
Well, Jacksonville clearly knew their history of Tennessee football defensive tackles. After all, they had John Henderson in the mid-2000s and had to face Albert Haynesworth twice a year during that time with the Tennessee Titans. Both were superstars and teammates on the 2001 Vols.
In two years with the Jaguars, Jackson has racked up 59 tackles, 14 and a half sacks as a 6’5″ 290-pound defensive tackle! He also forced four fumbles last year and played a huge role in helping this team get to the NFL Playoffs.
Jackson’s play overall has been flat-out amazing. As a result, we can’t ignore him any longer. He was already on the list, but he’s now one of the top former Vols in the NFL. The crazy part is Jackson got even better last year. It seems like that’s continuing to happen.
Because of that, you have to believe he’ll take even another step this year. The guy is just an amazing all-around defensive lineman who can play multiple roles. Jacksonville clearly saw that in him, and it’s paying off.