Could Malik Jackson play some defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020?
Outside of trading for All-Pro corner Darius Slay, the Philadelphia Eagles biggest acquisition this past offseason was undoubtedly signing Javon Hargrave. Poaching him away from their Pennsylvania counterpart, Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia front office handed over $39 million to the 27 year old defensive tackle. This move undoubtedly gives the Eagles one of the best “one-two” punches up the middle when looking at defensive lines around the league.
However, with everyone’s attention turned towards the new guy in town, a player who has become slightly forgotten as of late is that of Malik Jackson. The former Jacksonville Jaguar was expected to play a huge role in the Eagles defense last year, but barely played a handful of snaps.. Jackson was handed a three year deal worth up to $30 million in 2019, which really speaks volumes to how highly the Philadelphia front office viewed him at the time.
Jackson obviously wasn’t able to make much of an impact last year, as he suffered a season-ending foot injury during the team’s week one matchup against Washington. With Hargrave now in town as the starting DT alongside Fletcher Cox, Jackson has seemingly lost his role with the team. However, knowing Jim Schwartz and how creative he tends to get with his pass rushing schemes, fans should still be expecting a productive year from the former Pro Bowler.
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At 6-foot-5 and just 290 pounds, Jackson is actually a tad undersized for today’s modern day DT position. For reference, both Cox and Hargrave exceed 300 pounds despite being shorter than Jackson. With this in mind, there’s reason to believe that Jackson could be used as a “swiss army knife” across the entirety of the defensive live. While Jackson was most productive playing as a DT in Jacksonville, he did line up on the edge for Denver early in his career.
The Eagles have invested heavily into their pass rush the last couple years, utilizing a number of different guys at all times in order to keep everyone fresh. “Backups” like Chris Long and Vinny Curry have put up seriously good numbers in this system despite seeing limited snaps.
Outside of an emerging Josh Sweat, the Eagles are actually relatively light at the DE position this year. Guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery, and Daeshon Hall look promising, but have yet to produce on any serious level. This is where Malik Jackson enters into the mix. While he will no doubt sub in at DT when needed, Jackson could find himself as Schwartz’ go-to rotational edge rusher in 2020. Jackson has looked considerably leaner in some recent social media posts, leaning me to believe even further that he’s preparing for more time at DE this season.
Jackson recorded 20 sacks, 29 TFLs, and 46 QB hits between the years of 2015 and 2017. If he’s healthy and Schwartz can find creative ways to get him on the field this season, he could very easily put up numbers worth his hefty price tag.