The Oregon Ducks Football team followed up talented additions to their linebacker corps in 2017 (Isaac Slade-Matautia and Sampson Niu) by signing one of the best linebacker prospects in the 2018 recruiting cycle, Adrian Jackson. Jackson was a four-year player at Mullin High school, a small Roman Catholic prep school in Denver, Colorado.
Jackson was a Colorado First Team All-State Selection at safety as a junior, then replicated that feat at a different position (outside linebacker) as a senior. He was also listed in the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 at the same position.
An Under Armor All-American, he was the consensus No. 1 player at any position in the State of Colorado, and the No. 10 ranked outside linebacker nationally, according to USA Today. In addition, Bleacherreport.com, citing other sources, reported that he was the No. 115 ranked player at any position in the 2018 recruiting cycle, and the seventh best linebacker nationally.
Jackson isreported by various media as 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3, with a reported weight around 210 lbs. The recruiting website Maxpreps.com lists him at 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs., while ESPN.com lists him at 6-foot-3 and 207 lbs. Jackson’s Hudl.com profile lists him at 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs.
I have not seen any information regarding his arm length or hand size. However, given similar athletes playing the same position, his arm length should be approximately 32″ to 33″ long and his hand size should be about 9-1/2″ to 10.”
I don’t believe Jackson ever attended any sanctioned event where he was officially measured or participated in any series of tests where his Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, or Quickness (“SPARQ”) was recorded. However, his Hudl.com profile lists a 40 clock, vertical jump, bench press, 100 meter clock, and a squat. His 11.33 100 meter dash time has been verified by Track & Field results recently reported by Maxpreps.com. He actually posted better times as a junior, clocking 11.05 in the 100 meters and 22.26 in the 200 meters.
Jackson has a different build than what you normally see in the outside linebacker position. He is tall and rangy, with a short waist and long legs. He is a long-strider, equally comfortable in coverage or down in the box. He flashes great range throughout his sophomore to senior tape. Despite his angular frame, he does bend, sink, and change direction pretty well.
I didn’t see any film of him in a pass rush situation. We don’t know if he can flatten around the arc, dip & rip, execute spin moves, or what else he has in the toolbox after his first step off the line of scrimmage.
He Plays Well In Space…
In the video above, Jackson demonstrates his ability to play in space. Lined up wide, he sheds the block, mirrors the running back in the flat, and makes the tackle.
He Can Sink & Mirror…
The ability to change direction laterally is a vital skill for any outside linebacker. They must be able to hip sink and string the play out horizontally across the field. It’s described as “mirroring” the ball carrier. Here, Jackson executes this technique excellently.
He Can Set An Edge…
A perimeter defender must be able to set the edge of the defense. Either he makes the stop, or he turns the flow of the play back inside where he has help. Jackson does a nice job setting the edge above.
He Is Tough and Physical…
Jackson is physical at the point of attack, whether he is on the perimeter or down in the box. He demonstrates quick hands to disengage from blockers and attack the ball carrier.
Instincts, Read & React…
In the video above, Jackson blows up the play by recognizing a screen pass to the wide receiver he is shadowing. He attacks the route, forcing the quarterback to change to a sequential target, which leads to a backside sack from a teammate. Great play!
He Takes Proper Angles…
In the clip above, Jackson attacks the perimeter before the lead blocker can gather himself, making the tackle for a loss.
He Can Drop Back In Coverage…
Jackson flashes his great range in the video above. He gets back into coverage and helps break up a pass.
Who He Reminds Me Of…
Oren Burks of the Green Bay Packers. Burks was taken in the third round (No. 88 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft. His draft profile mirrors much of the upside, as well as concerns, regarding Adrian Jackson.
Other athletes that share similar triangle numbers and skill sets are Tyus Bowser of the Baltimore Ravens, a second round (No. 47 overall) pick in the 2017 draft, and Eli Harold, a third round (No. 79 overall) pick of the San Francisco 49er’s in 2015.
All of these guys are plus athletes who have twitch, can run and cover, shed blockers, play in space, and put pressure on the quarterback with a variety of techniques.
Adrian Jackson is a plus athlete still growing into his frame. He has played and excelled on the back end (All-State safety) of a defense before transitioning to linebacker (again All-State). This development of getting “hybrid” safety/linebackers on to the field in sub-packages is creeping into the NFL, and it’s finding it’s way into the college game as well. Because of his background, Jackson fits this prototype.
Jackson appears equally comfortable back in coverage or down in the box. He has the size, speed, and twitch to be effective against premium tight ends. He can hip sink and change direction to mirror twitched up running backs, stringing them out and neutralizing them before they get to the second level.
I saw little or no evidence of pass rush skills. He is going to have to become proficient at using his hands to defeat a hand punch from an offensive tackle. He has to learn how to dip his shoulder and “flatten” around the arc to the quarterback. He needs to learn how to string a variety of moves together, such as a spin or an efficient inside move. Further, can he close with a burst? His high center of gravity (long legs, short waist) may prevent him from torqueing on the edge at the proper angle when he dips & rips.
His tackling is hit and miss. He needs to be more consistent with less bear hugging. Flexibility is a bit of a concern, again due to his long legs. Is he bendy enough?
I see him as a three-down guy, provided he becomes a proficient edge rusher. He should see the field early at Oregon on special teams, before transitioning into an All-Conference caliber outside linebacker. He carries a solid mid-round NFL grade as well.
Michael Kelly “ChicoDuck”
Top Photo Credit: denverpost.com
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