Eagles’ 6th-round pick Tarron Jackson starting to flash

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  • Philadelphia Eagles
    Philadelphia Eagles
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  • Tarron Jackson
    Tarron Jackson
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  • Ryan Kerrigan
    Ryan Kerrigan
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Eagles’ 6th-round pick starting to flash in games originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

You’re forgiven if you didn’t have very high expectations for Tarron Jackson’s rookie season.

After all, the Eagles drafted him out of Coastal Carolina in the sixth round and he was buried pretty deep on their depth chart at defensive end earlier this year.

In the last few weeks, though, Jackson has been playing more and more.

Not only that, but he’s been flashing too.

“It's good to see him have success and make a few plays that really helped us in that ballgame,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “And I expect that from T-Jack.”

Jackson expects that from himself too. Because, no, the outside expectations for a rookie sixth-round pick from Coastal Carolina weren’t great, but Jackson has plenty of confidence.

The 23-year-old on Friday said he expected to see his playing time grow eventually.

“I’m confident in myself, even from high school to college, I always knew that to get to wherever I had to get to, that all I had to do what put in the work,” Jackson said. “I was confident that I was gonna start to get more playing time, I just didn’t know when. So every day and every week, come in and talk to my defensive coaches and try to every week improve on the areas that I’ve struggled with the previous week.

“Just continue doing that and doing that, just getting a little bit better, I think. Just one percent better every day, every week, that helps. That’s what’s helping me trend up.”

After playing just two defensive snaps in the season opener, Jackson has pretty consistently seen his play time increase over the course of his rookie season. Over the last four weeks, he has played around 32% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and he’s been taking away snaps from Ryan Kerrigan, who has a ton of experience that hasn’t translated into on-field production.

Jackson has out-snapped Kerrigan in each of the last four weeks and now that Kerrigan is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, there should be even more snaps for Jackson on Sunday against the Giants.

And there’s simply no question which player has been more productive this season:

Kerrigan (280 snaps): 3 tackles (3 solo), 1 TFL, 0 sacks, 2 QB hits

Jackson (183 snaps): 13 tackles (9 solo), 2 TFLs, 1 sacks, 1 QB hit

Jackson had his first sack in the Detroit game a couple months ago, but he has now had tackles for loss in back-to-back games.

His TFL against Washington on Tuesday night was an impressive play to shed the left tackle and take down Antonio Gibson in the backfield.

It was the kind of play that probably had Eagles fans saying, “Hmmm.”

There’s no guarantee Jackson turns into a star or even a starter. But if the Eagles can turn a sixth-round pick into solid contributor, you’d take that.

And that’s the way things seem to be going.

Because Jackson has been improving since training camp. The Eagles have been rewarding him with playing time and he’s been rewarding them with solid play.

Where does Jackson think he’s improved most?

“I think the biggest area that I’ve grown in is understanding what I need to do from the techniques and stuff they’re teaching me,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest area that I’ve grown in. In the run game, understanding the angles and the stuff that I need to take, improving my get-off and things of that nature. And that’s the reason that I’ve earned a little bit more playing time. Because coaches see day in and day out, come in early, make sure I’m doing what I need to do, working hard and making sure I’m getting better every week.”

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Jackson said the veterans in the Eagles’ defensive line room, especially the other defensive ends, have been a great resource for him. He’s relied on those players to help him get through his rookie season. And he’s been relying on a couple of them to serve as inspiration.

Because Jackson’s body type isn’t dissimilar from Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, Jackson has been trying to learn as much as he can from their games. And Graham has been a resource for him even after the torn Achilles.

Heck, Jackson said he spent Thanksgiving with Graham’s family a month ago. It helped the 23-year-old Jackson miss home a little bit less.

“I have a family here too now,” Jackson said. “We just gonna keep getting ready for these next couple games and win out the rest of the season.”