2020 Raiders Draft Prospect
Name: Lamar Jackson
Position: Defensive Back
Weight: 215 pounds
With confidence and timing, Jackson shows no reticence on cutting ahead of the wideout to make the play. Long arms combined with strength, he legally muscles his way between the receiver and the ball. On jump ball, height and length assist him win 50/50 balls. For Jackson and all defenders, a win doesn’t need to be a pick. While he snared five at Nebraska. Also, he knocked down twenty-two passes.
When grading Jackson, parse this trait in sections. As an outside corner, Jackson profiles as adequate speed to stay with perimeter threats. If he slides to safety, the speed appears slightly better. In a joker/bandit role, Jackson could slide in and compete with anyone.
Fearless approach. Jackson does not wait for backup. He approaches the ballcarrier with a fighter mentality. Physical from grasp through drive, Jackson can handle this aspect with power. Equally important, watch the quick punch and ability to dislodge the ball.
Jackson plays with an edge. He doesn’t mind getting his nose bloody and will attempt to manhandle receivers. At the line, he jams with purpose and thudding hands.
If you follow the Raiders, you must admit that the middle and back of the defensive back rotation remains an unkempt mess of atrocious coverage, poor angles, and general struggle. Outside of Trayvon Mullen and Jonathan Abram, with flashes of Erik Harris, the group looks subpar. As the season wore on, teams picked the secondary apart, spreading the unit thin and picking on those that they feel were weak links.
Physically, Jackson aligns with what Paul Guenther, Mike Mayock, and by extension, Jon Gruden prefers in defensive backs. Not to mention, his toolbox presents itself as a versatile solution in a rather stagnant, rather mundane defense. Despite his frame, Jackson lines up as a safety, attempting to shut down a number one receiver. Then, he could operate as a safety, whether dropping into deep middle coverage or providing run support. Furthermore, Jackson could see significant snaps as a subpackage linebacker, shadowing tight ends and backs in nickel and dime situations.
Like a shifty running back on offense, Jackson’s versatility would give the Raiders a movable chess piece that can only benefit their defense. Currently, they have no answer for Austin Ekeler, Travis Kelce or Phillip Lindsay. While each of those players remain proverbial thorns in the Raiders’ sides, little has been done to actually stop them with talent. The Raiders should see Jackson hovering around Day 2, pending a crisp combine.