Pros: He plays the run well, showing good size and strength. Does well at the point of attack and does a nice job getting off blocks. Can make plays laterally down the line and in pursuit. Shows good recognition. Has the strength to push the pocket as a bull rusher. Has a decent swim move. Shows some quickness and burst when closing on the QB off the edge. Shows nice on-ﬁeld leadership and intelligence.
Cons: Doesn't have a ﬁrst step that will consistently beat NFL offensive tackles.
Overview: Jackson was one of the more disappointing prospects I saw a year ago. He was living in Glenn Dorsey's shadow, made a lot of stupid mistakes and never lived up to his athletic potential. This year was the exact opposite. He did his best to step into the mantle and void left by Dorsey on the line, and it was impossible for him to completely ﬁll those shoes, I think he did an admirable job. Jackson can play multiple positions, including DE in both the 4-3 and 3-4. As well as potentially moving to play DT in the 4-3 as well. He transformed from a low character player in 2007 to a high character one in 2008. Three-year starter, that his most productive year as a sophomore with 8.5 sacks.
NFL Forecast: Jackson is probably never going to be a top pass rusher. He can be capable, but never will scare opposing teams. He'll be the guy that can consistently get 4-6 sacks in a year, and may surprise with one year where he gets 10 or so sacks, but it won't be the norm. Jackson has the versatility to play in multiple schemes, and has value. He's a natural pass rusher, although not an explosive one and plays the run well. He'll contribute far more to a team than his sack production indicates, and is the ideal left end in a 4-3 scheme. And he can ﬂip inside on passing downs. His best ﬁt is probably as a 3-4 defensive end. But if he was to bulk up some more, it wouldn't be crazy to move him inside permanently in the 4-3 as well.
ATL Forecast: Jackson would play the exact same role that Chauncey Davis and Jamaal Anderson play for the Falcons, which is left defensive end on running downs and interior pass rusher on passing downs. But Jackson would perform those duties better than either player, because he plays harder than Anderson, and has much better strength and quickness than Davis. Jackson's production wouldn't be great in Atlanta, probably along similar lines as what we saw with Brady Smith, but he'd be a solid starter that can play every down.
Value: Jackson is worth a late ﬁrst round pick for a 3-4 team. For a 4-3 team, you'd probably be better off waiting until the second round to take him.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS RUSH: 3.0
POINT OF ATTACK: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.