Once Malik Jackson adjusts to the 3-4 alignment, he could be positioned for the biggest success of his career.
For now, the emerging fourth-year defensive lineman will study to learn how his role changes as the Broncos move him from a role as a swing end/tackle in their previous 4-3 scheme to handling a five-technique role in the overhauled scheme.
"It's pretty different," Jackson said. "I've never played 3-4, so I'm pretty excited to get on the field and see what the techniques and everything are. In the classroom, it's looking good. I'm just trying to get used to it and familiar, and take it slow."
Jackson and Derek Wolfe worked well together in the 4-3 last year. The Broncos' sack and pressure rate per pass play spiked when the two lined up together, as the 2012 draft picks effectively used stunts and twists to play off each other and force one-on-one matchups that either could exploit.
Consistent pressure ensued. ProFootballFocus.com credited the 293-pound Jackson -- its No. 3-ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013 -- with 29 quarterback hurries. Wolfe added 23.
Those numbers could spike with more snaps in a scheme for which the two have ideal body types and skill sets.
"Now it's up to us to go out there and produce," Jackson said.
Helping them will be the experienced tandem of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar. Few people know more about getting the most out of pass-rushing defensive ends in the 3-4 alignment than Phillips and Kollar.
Their experience in that area goes back to the late 1970s, when Phillips coached a Houston Oilers defensive line featuring Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea and Kollar played on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers line led by Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon. Thirty-two years later, they began coaching J.J. Watt to the first of his prolific seasons with the Texans that helped him land the biggest contract ever given to a defensive player at the time.
"You see what (Phillips) has done with J.J. Watt and guys like that," Jackson said. "I just can't wait until he can start teaching me and critiquing me and getting me to that next level."
Kollar has gotten results at every stop, and has already made an impression on Jackson.
"Definitely high energy," Jackson said. "But he definitely knows what he's talking about when he opens his mouth. That's all I can ask for."
And if Jackson listens and stays healthy, he can continue his emergence -- and perhaps push for the Pro Bowl with more playing time.
"I definitely (want) to be a Pro Bowler in every aspect of what that means," Jackson said. "Just (to) kind of take my career to the next level -- it's coming up to my contract year, so I really want to show these coaches that I love it here, and I want to stay here, and the only way I can do that is to produce on the field."
The Broncos got back to work Monday, April 13, with the first phase of their offseason program.