The Alabama defense is always stocked with high-end NFL draft prospects, and 2016 was no exception. Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and Tim Williams highlighted the best front-seven in college football. While Minkah Fitzpatrick, Marlon Humphrey and Eddie Jackson (@EJackson_4) headlined a scary defensive backfield. Jackson, the former 4-star from Lauderdale Lakes Florida, is headed for the NFL after his Senior year was cut short by a season-ending injury while playing Texas A&M (fractured leg). The Tide heavily utilized him as both a safety and a returner, and he was quite successful. Let’s take a dive into Jackson’s game, break down his strengths and weaknesses, and assess his draft and IDP stock.
Technique: Watching Eddie Jackson’s technique had me weak at the knees. Hips, body control, tackling – they’re are all top notch. In man coverage, his hip fluidity pops off the screen. It’s in the run game where he shows off his elite-level body-control as he knifes through blockers to the ball carrier. Jackson’s technique will be what drives his potential forward. Who knows how good he will be if he can hone this skill even further at the next level.
Smarts: As any player on the field for Nick Saban, you had better know what you’re doing, Jackson does and then some. He has natural football IQ that cannot be taught. He’s got the football instincts that make so many solid players. I would like him to get a little better in playing zone coverage, but overall not much to complain about in this department.
Run Defense: His technique is the main factor in his solid run coverage, and that’s good because that isn’t going away anytime soon. Jackson is proficient in reading running lanes, filling and bringing the running back down. Because of this, strong safety may be the position that suits him better. If not, he is at least capable of playing there which is a nice luxury for a defensive coordinator.
Athleticism: If you watched Alabama play (prior to Jackson’s injury) it may surprise you that I am listing this as a weakness. After all, he was consistently used as a punt returner for an Alabama squad chock-full of athletes. I’m not listing it as a weakness, but more as a concern. Let me start by saying that I don’t believe Jackson was back there returning punts because of his speed or quickness. It was because of his sure hands and instincts (when to catch the ball or not, when to run or not). The bottom line is I just do not love his athleticism. Time will tell if this concern is overblown.
Jackson enters the draft with a safety class that is stacked with high-end talent. I have Jackson listed as a high-end 4th-round talent and ranked 8th overall among safeties. As for IDP, it is unclear exactly where Jackson will play or how he will come back from the injury. I would avoid drafting him among the top-5 safeties. After that, the safeties all begin to blend together and he could go at any time. You can watch some of Eddie Jackson’s fine work through the links below:
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