A good start to getting familiar with any player is to look at his production. Last season Jackson logged 141 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, and had 7 passes defensed to go along with 3 stuffs at the LOS. The tackle numbers are impressive and indicative of a player with sound technique. This is confirmed by pro football focus' Tackling Efficiency stat which ranks D'Qwell 4th overall amongst all inside linebackers.
Looking at his overall grade (-11.6....-11.3 in run defense) something is off. So I went back and watched a couple of games to try and find the issues. Here is what I found overall:
So far not impressed. He's not particularly rangy sideline to sideline, he's been eaten up by a couple of FB lead blocks...— Mike G (@Bronco_Mike251) February 28, 2014
Overall, I saw him take some bad angles at the LOS which killed his gap responsibility and left holes for the running back. On one play in particular he got sucked to the inside of the LOS and left a wide open hole for CJ Spiller who took the rock 54-yards for a TD.
D'Qwell plays decent zone coverage most of the time sitting on routes with good position to make a tackle without a lot of YAC. What kills him is any sort of lateral movement (ie crossing routes) that pull him sideline to sideline. His speed and explosion is questionable.
Interesting stats and rankings
All we hear about is how much Wesley Woodyard struggled last season. I don't believe he's the answer at Mike, but he wasn't as terrible as folks remember.
- Run Stop Percentage, D'Qwell ranked 37th in the league amongst all ILB, Wesley Woodyard ranked 20th.
- Pass Rush Productivity, D'Qwell ranked 22nd in the league amongst all ILB, Wesley Woodyard ranked 4th.
- Tackling efficiency, D'Qwell ranked 4th, Wesley Woodyard 3rd.
- Coverage is the only place where Jackson ranked above Woodyard (10th to 31st). Even then, the numbers side by side are very similar:
D'Qwell Jackson: 60 targets, 44 receptions, 425 yards, 252 YAC, 1 TD, 1 INT
Wesley Woodyard: 61 targets, 45 receptions, 430 yards, 261 YAC, 4 TD, 1 INT
We see that Wesley is dinged badly for the 4 touchdowns but I'm unsure in which context these occurred.
D'Qwell adds zero playmaking ability to the Defense
Middle Linebacker is one of those positions that is hard to fill because of the nature of today's game. Some defenses (like the Broncos) utilize their subpackages more because it gives them the best matchups against a passing offense. From what I can tell, adding D'Qwell who is a three down player (mainly because of reputation and past production) will do nothing but provide a minimal upgrade on a position the Broncos have yet to settle.
His coverage ability is no better than Woodyard's, his lateral movement is a liability, and his ability to make plays that impact a game are hugely dependent upon chance rather than skillset. The Broncos will get nothing added in the pass rush department or run stuffing department.
Which brings me to my final verdict:
He's not much better than the two-down players we've had, and he certainly isn't much better than Wesley Woodyard who was an experiment. In my estimation his contributions are marginal at best which means he will not be as impactful as Trevathan or Woodyard in subpackages. Yes you can leave him on the field three downs, but in reality you're left with perhaps a slightly better situation than the Broncos came in with. Is he better than Paris or Woody at Mike? Paris for sure, the production seems to indicate he and Woodyard are neck and neck.
Does he give you an edge running base defense? Sure, above what Paris Lennon is capable of.
Does he give you an edge in sub packages? No.
It feels like another band aid to me bottom line. #DQwell No more Half Measures Broncos.— Mike G (@Bronco_Mike251) February 28, 2014
If Bronco Mike were running the show, the Denver Broncos would pass on D'Qwell Jackson. What would you do?