DE Drake Jackson, Southern California*

6’4” – 250 lbs.

Background:

Has been starting since his true freshman season, when he was listed at 275 pounds and finished with a line of 46-11.5-5.5. Dropped twenty pounds due to illness, shifted to outside linebacker, and went 20-5.5-2.0 over six games the following year before posting 37-8.0-5.0 over eleven games as a junior by the time this article was written.

Positives:

Tall, long-limbed defender who plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage. High-motor player. Does a nice job of attacking blockers with his arms extended, keeping them out of his frame. Plays with discipline and has some power in his hands to shed in the run game. Flashes the ability to make tackles while engaged, with a pretty solid radius. Nice burst and first step at the line of scrimmage on passing downs. Good athlete in a straight line; can close fast when given free lanes to the passer, or can chase down ballcarriers in space in the run/screen games. Appears to have a solid slap move when working the speed rush off the edge. Pretty active with his hands and shows a solid motor to attempt counters when his initial move isn’t successful. Was asked to work in coverage pretty regularly, flashing the ability to jam receivers at the line or make zone drops. Nice knee-bend and base when playing in space.

Negatives:

Got a lot of unblocked lanes into the backfield. Faster than he is smooth. Sometimes looks like he doesn’t have a clear rush approach. Would like to see more of a power element to his game. A little bit thin in the legs, and lets them go dead on contact. Doesn’t set a particularly hard edge to constrain rushing lanes. Contact balance and leverage can be iffy. Can get too high and narrow and struggle to disengage. Loses track of the ballcarrier at times. More disciplined than instinctive. Could do a better job of sniffing out screens.

Summary:

A lanky edge defender who possesses the athleticism to rush the passer or work in coverage, but who probably needs to continue filling out his frame and adding functional strength in order to develop into an every-down contributor. Would like to see more leg drive and more consistent leverage to set hard edges and walk back blockers with his bull rush. For now, might be more of a sub-package contributor who can do a little bit of everything.

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