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Saints hope D’Marco Jackson grows into long-term starter

Let’s hope.

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints hope to have an elite defense again in 2022 with anchors like Cam Jordan and Demario Davis joined by veteran Tyrann Mathieu. As NFL players age, teams are forced to start thinking about life after retirement of their franchise cornerstones. We saw it recently with the retirement of Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary, with the Saints signing Mathieu as an immediate replacement.

But what about someone like Cam Jordan? At age 32, the Saints have already begun planning for life without Jordan. Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner were recent first round picks at the defensive end position. At linebacker? The Saints drafted Zack Baun and Pete Werner in back-to-back years with the hopes one could possibly show signs of taking over for Demario Davis one day in the future. Werner has shown signs of being a new anchor of the Saints defense while Zack Baun has struggled mightily during his time in the NFL.

It could instead be a linebacker the Saints selected in their third-straight draft, D’Marco Jackson, who could be the next quarterback of the Saints defense. Bleacher Report certainly seems to think so:

D’Marco Jackson, LB

The New Orleans Saints only had two selections after the second round, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t choose between talented players. New Orleans has done an excellent job of identifying talented athletes on the defense under general manager Mickey Loomis, making fifth-round linebacker D’Marco Jackson especially noteworthy. Jackson is the only FBS player this century to produce 120 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, six sacks and six pass breakups.

The key for the 6’1”, 230-pound Appalachian State product to post similar production is to keep him moving downhill or from side to side. He has range and solid speed but is stiff in the hips and uncomfortable in coverage. He has to see what’s happening to be effective.

Jackson is joining a linebacker corps with two standouts in Demario Davis and Pete Werner. It’s unlikely he’ll start, but in bigger formations with three linebackers, head coach Dennis Allen can get Jackson exposure by having him on the field. Ideally, Jackson will develop into a replacement for Davis.

If Pete Werner ends up being the next Demario Davis, it seems like D’Marco Jackson could at least be the next Kwon Alexander.