Seahawks DE Branden Jackson’s versatility mirrors his personality

Aug 28, 2019, 2:47 PM
Seahawks DE Branden Jackson...
Seahawks defensive end Branden Jackson talked about his journey to the position. (Getty)

The dichotomy of Seahawks defensive end Branden Jackson applies both to his football career and his personality.

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The Pennsylvania-born Muhammad Ali fan has a smile that belies his aggression on the field. He also capped off Tuesday’s practice with a pick-six – not something you see every day from a pass-rusher.

“I always tell coach, don’t forget I was a middle linebacker in college. I started from paying safety – I can do this,” Jackson told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore on Tuesday before going on to break down his interception. “I thought (the receiver) beat me, but I saw him on an outbreak and I was like ‘Oh, I got this – easy money,’ and (the quarterback) threw it and I was gone.”

Jackson’s face visibly lit up during the interview, whether he was talking about his blue-collar playing style – “Every play, I’m from Pittsburgh and you’re gonna feel this hard hat” – or laughing through the description of the outfit he plans to wear Thursday before the Seahawks’ final preseason game.

His name might be flying under the radar of the 90-man roster this preseason, but not on the field at Virginia Mason Athletic Center where pass-rush is at a premium right now. In his career, Jackson moved from college linebacker to safety to, finally, defensive line.

His coaches at Texas Tech trusted he’d fit. As he put it: “They told me, ‘Just go get the ball.'”

While Jackson had the skills to play in the secondary and on the line, Jackson’s body type at the time was only suited for the former.

“I was 215 (pounds) so they redshirted me, and then that summer I was 260… and then I was back to 240 by the middle of the season,” he said with a laugh. “It was a struggle to keep on weight – still to this day (it is).”

Branden doesn’t have many complaints now, as he says: “I get to eat a lot of good food, especially being in Seattle. Me loving seafood, I could eat it all day.”

Now that Jackson has found a home in Seattle and on the defensive line, where he fits in on it has yet to be seen. As for where he’s most comfortable?

“I like to play 5 (technique), I think it’s my favorite position – but if it’s a (third down situation) I like to be inside the 3 (technique). I feel like I can use my quickness to get past a couple of guards.”

Jackson has a lot of faith in the talent the Seahawks have up front, as well.

“When I get to rush with people like Jake (Martin), or (Barkevious) Mingo or Ziggy (Ansah) when he’s here, that speed makes it a lot easier to rush inside, and the fastest line to the quarterback is straight.”

Branden Jackson is as much of a beaming, boisterous teammate as he is blue-collar, hard-hitting trash talker. He’s a defensive lineman with the skills of a defensive back. He has many wonderful skills and traits all wrapped into a gravitating personality.

What happens next is yet to be seen with the 2019 Seahawks, but putting it simply, Jackson says, “I’ve always been a guy that just wants to run (and) hit, and I figure that works.”

Pete Carroll’s Seahawks tend to figure that works, too.

Listen to Jackson’s full interview here.

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Seahawks DE Branden Jackson’s versatility mirrors his personality