PFF scouting report: Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Name: Eddie Jackson
Position fit: Free safety
Stat to know: One tackle, no stops in 66 run snaps when aligned within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2016.
What he does best:
- Good athleticism; has the speed and length required to play centerfield.
- Versatility to play man coverage as he was a converted cornerback.
- Great ball skills, catches the ball out in front of him with his hands and has good return skills when he can intercept the ball.
- Between 2014 and 2016 he gave up just 49.6 percent completions into his coverage with a QB rating against of 49.9.
- Adds significant value as a punt returner; he averaged 22.9 yards per return on 11 returns, with two going for scores.
- Poor tackler, often out of control or goes too high on players and does not have the strength to bring them down with bad technique. Has missed 16 of 122 attempts over the last three years.
- Shy hitter; doesn’t seem to want to stick his nose in on a hit unless he has to.
- Slight frame and will be pushed around and sealed off in the box; seems to be just a FS fit who can occasionally play man against lesser options.
- Doesn’t seem to read QB when in deep zone, will wait for receiver to make his break instead of reading the QB at the top of his dropback.
- Instincts at safety need work; clearly still adapting to playing in space, and needs to improve his angles.
Player comparison: Tashaun Gipson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Gipson is an excellent back-end player in coverage, but does not offer much in terms of run support. He finished dead last among NFL safeties in run-stop percentage in 2016.
Bottom line: Jackson has a high ceiling among the secondary options for potential centerfielders. His ball skills, athleticism and his ability to be utilized in man coverage make him an intriguing option to develop as a free safety on a team that is versatile schematically. He does have glaring weaknesses that can be extremely problematic. His tackling skills are poor; he often shies away from contact if it looks as if his teammates can get him down. When he is thrust into the position where he needs to tackle he often goes too high and can take bad angles. He is a good athlete, but not exceptional and his instincts and technique need to improve at safety is he is going to be able have enough range to be a centerfielder because his frame and tackling ability will keep him out of the box. His punt-return abilities are likely to bump him up a round or so higher than his play on defense would otherwise warrant.