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Maryland's Jackson a Linebacker On the Rise

University of Maryland inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was among 50 local NFL Draft prospects who visited Redskins Park on Friday, April 7. It is expected that Jackson will be selected either in the first round or second round of the April 29-30 NFL Draft.

The 6-0, 228-pounder logged a team-high 137 tackles and four sacks last season for the Terrapins. In many NFL Draft guides, Jackson is listed as the top inside linebacker available. He is regarded as an aggressive and physical linebacker, but somewhat under-sized. Jackson spoke with on Friday after the workout:

Q: You're expected to be a first- or second-round pick in the NFL Draft later this month. Why did you want to come to Redskins Park for the local college workout?

A: "Every year, the local guys have the opportunity to come here and show what they can do. I already knew ahead of time that I wasn't planning on working out. But I wanted to show my respect to the organization and be here for some of the guys that I played with at Maryland. I was looking forward to talking with coaches, too."

Q: How exciting is it to be looking forward to the draft--and knowing you should be a first-day pick?

A: "It's very exciting. But you just never know. You hear all kinds of things about where you could go in the draft. You hear you could go late in the first round or early in the second. But you also know there are a lot of things that can happen between now and the draft. Teams could trade down or trade up. It's easy to get caught up in it. But I'm a calm and cool guy and I just let things happen where they may."

Q: A lot of the draft guides have you ranked as the top collegiate middle linebacker in the country. Do you feel like you're the best at that position?

"Yeah, definitely. I know Abdul Hodge [from Iowa] is another top inside linebacker--if I'm not ranked No. 1, then he is. Or vice versa. I had a chance to meet him at the Senior Bowl and we talk every now and then. He's rooting for me and I'm rooting for him. But I feel like I'm the best available [middle linebacker] in the draft and hopefully some teams in the first round are thinking the same thing so that I can sneak into that first round."

Q: The Redskins' defensive coaches love players who are versatile. As you may know, the team has a vacancy at weak-side linebacker, although a number of players are already competing for the job. If the Redskins were to draft you, do you feel like you could shift to weak-side linebacker?

A: "A lot of [NFL] teams don't know that when I first got to Maryland, I was a weak-side linebacker. I moved to the middle because we didn't have anyone there. I had to learn an entire new position and I stayed with it. So I definitely feel like I can make the transition back to the weak-side."

Q: Do you have a preference to stay at middle linebacker?

A: "It doesn't matter. Defense is defense. It's the same objective: Tackle the guy with the ball. So it really doesn't matter to me."

Q: You grew up in Largo, Fla. What NFL team did you root for growing up?

A: "I grew up a Bucs fan, just because I grew up in Florida. But being in the [Washington, D.C.] area for the last few years, I have grown interested in how [the Redskins] are doing and I've followed them. I've been to about five or six games and I've met some of the guys on the team. It's been great. So if I had a chance to play here, I'd be happy."

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