Drake Jackson Draft Profile
Every year there are a few guys where you don’t know exactly where they are going to fit in the NFL, but you know they will be successful. At USC, edge rusher Drake Jackson lined up as a standup pass rusher, hand in the dirt defensive end, outside linebacker, and was able to kick inside. He was pretty good at damn near every position; he is one of those guys that make you say “he’s a football player”. It is hard to project where he will play and where he will be picked in the draft, but he just has that "it factor" to his game. Jackson is one of the more unique prospects in this year’s draft, but I could see major success coming his way if he lands with the right organization.
The rare, uncoachable ability that Drake Jackson has is his wiggle. It reminds me a little bit of Justin Jefferson and Ja Morant; it is the rare athletic trait that prevents offensive lineman from even touching him. Jefferson has it when he is at the top of his route and Morant has it when he is driving to the hoop. At the top of his rush, Jackson has elite knee bend where he dips below the offensive linemen’s hands to get to the quarterback. He is flexible and a fluid pass rusher that can get to the quarterback with speed, hand swipes, and quickness. Jackson’s quickness comes out with his lightning-fast spin move; he has athleticism that makes you think he used to play a skill position. In the run game, Jackson does a good job at shooting his hands and getting to the offensive lineman before the offensive lineman can get to him. One thing you love when watching him play is his get-off and his motor. Jackson is usually the first one off the ball and is willing to run sideline-to-sideline to make a tackle. As a pass rusher, Jackson can win with a two-hand-swipe, but still has a lot of room to improve. Overall, Jackson has star-level potential, he just needs the right coach to bring it out of him.
I believe that Jackson’s main focus, once he gets into the league, is finding stability. His weight fluctuates, position changes, and role flip-flops; I would like to see Jackson find a home at one position in the NFL. Jackson’s biggest weakness seems to be his strength; in the run game, Jackson gets pushed with the pack and gives up open run lanes. I would like to see him re-direct coming off the edge vs the run and force running backs into traffic. While he is fast and bendy, he hasn’t shown that he can consistently win with power. At the next level, Jackson’s biggest goal should be to pack on muscle and solidify himself as an every-down pass rusher. When he first gets into the league, I believe he will be a rotational pass rusher that wins with speed and quickness, but I think he has the potential to diversify his rush package.
Drake Jackson is a superb athlete that carries that “it factor” with him. While he has areas where he will need to improve in order to be that “every-down pass rusher” I do believe he will find his home initially as a third-down pass-rusher. As he starts to get stronger and add moves to his rush package, I believe his game will evolve into that every-down rusher that I mentioned earlier. As far as a pro-comparison, he reminds me of Cliff Avril. I believe he is deserving of an early second-round pick due to his potential, but realistically I don’t see him going until the middle of the second round. I believe the Chiefs, Panthers, and Seahawks are all good potential destinations for Jackson, and that the sky is the limit with the edge rusher from USC.
Strength + Power: 5.25/8
Bend + Flexibility: 6/7
Run Defender: 5/7
Motor + Adaptability: 6/7
Pass Rush Moves: 4.25/6
Get Off: 5/6
Final Rating: 80
Pro Comparison: Cliff Avril
Team Fits: Chiefs, Panthers, Seahawks
Draft Ranking: Early Second Round
Draft Projection: Second Round