04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Broncos' picks: Round 5/137 -- Malik Jackson, DE, 6-6, 285, Tennessee...Jackson was an All-SEC first-team pick last year at Tennessee, but is expected to move to defensive end in Jack Del Rio's 4-3 alignment while providing depth at the under tackle position. He'll likely settle in as a backup to Robert Ayers. - The Sports Xchange
Jackson was a top 50 defensive line recruit out of high school and chose to attend Southern California over several other West Coast programs.
He played sparingly as a true freshman backup end, recording 4.0 tackles, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Jackson was again a backup in 2009 as a sophomore in what turned out to be his final season for the Trojans, collecting 18 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
In the summer of 2010, he opted to transfer to Tennessee, becoming the second Southern Cal player to take advantage of NCAA-instituted bylaws allowing USC juniors and seniors to transfer to another FBS-level program without sitting out a year, claiming "needing a fresh start" as his reason.
Despite only a few months in Knoxville, Jackson earned a starting job as a junior in 2010, splitting time between end and tackle and earning Second Team All-SEC honors with 48 tackles, 5.0 sacks, four pass breakups and a team-best 11.0 tackles for loss. He returned in 2011 as a senior and started all 12 games at defensive tackle, collecting a career-high 56 tackles and led the team in both sacks (2.5) and tackles for loss (11.0) and earned Second Team All-SEC honors.
Jackson is a highly-cut athlete with a versatile skill-set and saw time inside and outside in college, but looks more natural as an end. He played 95 percent of his snaps at tackle for the Volunteers, which limited his effectiveness and production playing out of position.
Jackson is an upright defender who relies too much on his upper body and needs to develop his lower-body strength to reach his potential. Despite his lack of flexibility, he has the quickness and skill-set to be an effective lineman, but he needs to improve his leverage off the snap in order to be effective at the next level.
Jackson showed steady improvement over his career and his best football looks to be ahead of him - Tennessee coaches rave about his ability.
Strengths: Very good size and frame with a strong upper body and long arms. Very good quickness and agility for his size and is a naturally explosive player with good get-off speed. Jackson stays balanced through contact and keeps working to penetrate the pocket, playing with a good motor. He is stout at the point of attack and plays with good length and wrist/hand strength to secure tackles. Jackson has also shown the ability to rip the ball out of the grasp of ballcarriers with four career forced fumbles. Improved awareness and footwork to drop in space when needed. Versatile skill-set to play multiple positions on the defensive line and has experience playing inside and outside.
Weaknesses: Plays too tall and allows himself to get upright off the snap. Needs to do a better job with leverage to win at the line of scrimmage, relying too much on his upper-body strength. Lean lower body and needs to improve his strength in his legs and thighs. Suspect body flexibility and tight hips. Not a natural bender and lacks fluid change of direction ability. Plays with inconsistent pad level and is often knocked backwards off the snap. Only average career production at the college level (13.0 career sacks). Still a bit raw in his development and needs to eliminate senseless penalties. Looks fatigued at times, struggling to finish plays, and conditioning might be an issue.
NFL Comparison: Tim Crowder, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-- Dane Brugler