2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: USC EDGE Drake Jackson

Brian Lamb
Brian Lamb is the owner of NFL Draft Lounge and has covered the NFL Draft since 2011. Brian is also the owner of the Infinity Sports Network, which NFL Draft Lounge belongs to.

The talk of the 2022 NFL Draft class at the edge position centers around Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson. However, there’s plenty of depth at the position for NFL front offices to sink their teeth into. Just one of those prospects is USC edge Drake Jackson. Heading into the 2021 college football season, Jackson was considered by many to be one of the top prospects in this class. While his draft stock has fallen off a bit nationally, I still believe that he possesses elite traits that will really come alive at the NFL Combine. In this scouting report, we’ll breakdown what makes Drake Jackson so special, and why we believe that he’s a top prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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Drake Jackson 40 Time

I’m predicting that Drake Jackson will run a 4.62 40 time in the 2022 NFL Combine. This would be well-below the league average for both the defensive end, as well as the outside linebacker position. On film, Jackson has tremendous quickness off the line of scrimmage to beat offensive linemen out of their stances. Furthermore, he has solid quickness to hold his own when asked to drop into coverage on passing downs.

 

Drake Jackson Injury History

In 2019, Drake Jackson missed two games after suffering an injury to his left foot that left him in a walking boot. Additionally, Jackson was in danger of missing time in 2021 after another injury to his left foot but was able to start against Notre Dame following a bye week. Drake Jackson should get a green light during the medical process at the NFL Combine, although some front offices might pay special attention to the left foot.

 

Drake Jackson Scouting Report

Pros
  • Excellent Quickness And Agility Off The Line Of Scrimmage
  • Possesses Some Of The Best Body Lean And Bend In This Class
  • Fantastic Timing With His Hands To Stun Offensive Linemen
Cons
  • Fails To Incorporate Spins And Twists Into Repertoire
  • Can Struggle With Change Of Direction In Coverage
  • Adequate Speed And Quickness To Attack Ball Carriers On Outside Runs

Drake Jackson is a three-year contributor for the University of Southern California Trojans. As an edge rusher, he plays both defensive end and outside linebacker, although I believe that defensive end is a more natural position for him. He has excellent height and solid weight for the linebacker position, but would be considered underweight as a defensive end. His projected 40 time would also be solid for the linebacker position, but well-above the league average for defensive ends.

Jackson is an explosive player off the line of scrimmage that is able to beat his opponents out of their stance quite regularly. His body lean, bend, and dip to get around offensive tackles is some of the best in this draft class. He has a good ability to drive through offensive lineman and plug running lanes between the tackles. Further, he does a great job of reading and diagnosing read-option plays, as well as attacking the ball carrier quickly and efficiently. His hand usage is aggressive, which allows him to drive back offensive linemen or win on a regular-basis on the outside. He has good agility behind the line of scrimmage to chase down ball carriers that are within range. When used as an outside linebacker in coverage, he does a solid job of pressing tight ends and slot receivers to disrupt their timing with the quarterback.

Drake Jackson can, at times, rely too heavily on his quickness and agility. He doesn’t have a wide-range of tools in his arsenal to beat offensive linemen, such as spins and twists. When he’s lined up inside the defensive line, his stunts have a wide arc, putting him behind the eight ball when penetrating the pocket. His speed and quickness outside the tackle box needs improvement.

 

Drake Jackson NFL Draft Projection

Ultimately, I believe that Drake Jackson will come off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft towards the end of the first round. Currently, he’s listed as the third best edge rusher on our 2022 NFL Draft Top 200 Big Board. However, I do believe that he’ll be the fourth-best edge as we approach the end of April.

It’s my belief that Drake Jackson best fits as a defensive end in the NFL. While he is capable of playing outside linebacker, a position on the defensive line seems more natural for him. Despite this, it’s possible that NFL franchises could look at him as more of a hybrid rusher and use him at both positions.

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