Obviously, Derek Barnett was the original Tennessee football star on the Philadelphia Eagles when you look at guys playing in the NFL. But he was hurt last year. Helping him get back to health will be Malik Jackson, who joins Philly after three years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and one Pro Bowl appearance in that time.
Jackson and Barnett together make a duo of former defensive line Vols who played critical roles in winning Super Bowls. While Barnett recovered the key fumble two seasons ago to secure it for the Eagles, Jackson could have been Super Bowl MVP with the Denver Broncos in 2015-2016 if it wasn’t for Von Miller. He had five tackles and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in that game.
Anyway, Jackson is a unique player in that he can fit in any system. The 6’5″ 290-pound defensive tackle was a nose tackle in Wade Phillips’s 3-4 system in Denver, and then he became a 4-3 tackle with Jacksonville, helping that unit have one of the best defenses in the NFL. With 32.5 career sacks, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz clearly has big plans for him.
Joining that system is a big reason we now have Jackson at No. 2 on this list. Philly loves elite linemen who can time snap counts and pin their ears back to rush the passer, and that’s exactly what Jackson is. Being only 29 years old in that system could make for his best season yet.