- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Tennessee defensive coordinator Ray Horton coached Jackson in 2013.
“D’Qwell has been a coach’s dream as far as leadership, intelligence,'' Horton said last season per this article from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "He demands a lot from himself and his teammates. He really is a locker room coach [with] some of the things he says after the game and at halftime.”
The Titans could use that in the middle of a defense that needs more leaders. Strong safety Bernard Pollard, who could be leaving as a free agent, was the singular leader of the 2013 defense.
I talked to one executive who couldn’t predict what sort of deal Jackson might command because he believes everyone is waiting to see what the market will offer when free agency opens March 11. That executive said while Jackson has been productive in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, he’s probably better in a 4-3.
The numbers from Pro Football Focus suggest it’s more than a bit better.
ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, is a bit skeptical of Jackson.
“He’s highly productive when he’s right [physically], but I also have always seen that as a bit of an aberration, as he is often making plays downfield, rather than 'impact tackles,' Williamson said. “He has experience in both schemes, but never was a great take-on linebacker and need protection, which I would think Jurrell Casey and company could do rather well. He’s an every down LB, but his name value is greater than what he truly is in my opinion.”
Williamson said another player connected to Horton, Arizona free-agent-to-be Karlos Dansby is a superior option: “Dansby had a much better year than Jackson in all areas and is more versatile ... would clearly prefer Dansby.”
Odds are Jackson fares well on the open market, though as indicated in Cabot’s piece, just two months ago he never imagined he would be moving on from Cleveland.
Horton will certainly have a strong voice in how seriously the Titans look into Jackson.