Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)
#2 - Adoree Jackson - Cornerback - USC - 5-10, 186
Games Watched: Alabama, Penn St., Notre Dame, Washington, Stanford
Pros: Possibly the best punt/kick returner to come out in years with an unbelievable eight career return touchdowns (four punt, four kick) in just three years. Electric speed that shows up in games, not just timed, in fact he looks faster than the 4.42 40 he ran at the Combine. Excellent change of direction and very light on his feet, impressive agility and acceleration. Seamlessly flips his hips and changes directions to stay in the hip pocket of receivers vertically or carry them across the field. Impressive ball skills, consistently high points the ball in contested situations, showing very good body control and timing. Absolute playmaker with the ball in his hands, as seen by his six career receiving touchdowns on top of the return ability. Looks comfortable playing press and off coverage, although seems to be better in press right now. Saw several instances where running backs were in the open field breaking away from the defense with nobody in front of them and he chased them down from behind to save a touchdown. Throws his body around as a tackler and shows good instincts to avoid blockers, although his effectiveness and physicality is limited by his size. Played both outside corner spots, as well as in the slot, although he may project strictly to the slot at the next level due to his size.
Cons: His size sticks out like a sore thumb, barely 5-10 and under 190 lbs, and doesn’t seem to have much growth potential with a slight frame. Lacks ideal length. Didn’t show much of a jam in college and may never develop an overly effective jam due to size limitations. Can give too much cushion in off coverage and be slow to react to plays in front of him at times. Really struggled with John Ross earlier this year despite recording two interceptions in that game. Gave up deep bombs over the top against Penn St., Washington, and Notre Dame. Has a tendency to bite too hard on double moves. Needs to become more disciplined overall in coverage and not trust his natural athleticism to take care of things.
Conclusion: As strictly a cornerback there are a lot of things to really like about Jackson, especially his speed, smooth athleticism, excellent ball skills, and feisty nature. Conversely, his tendency to give up explosive plays and the lack of size are concerning, especially because he may not have the size or physicality to hold up playing press technique on the outside full-time in the NFL.
To me, the only way to justify selecting him at 28 is if the team commits to using him as their full-time punt and kick returner. None of this stuff about “only in certain situations” or “he’s too valuable on defense to risk back there full-time”. No, this could be the best return man in the league right out of the gate, and if only judging him as a cornerback without the return potential I’d probably say he should go somewhere in the mid to late second-round. So with that said, if you want to spend the 28th pick on him it has to be with the intent to utilize him to the fullest, and that means he’s back there to return every punt and every kick.
If that is indeed the plan, then I think he’s in the conversation at 28. He definitely has to develop aspects of his game as a pure cornerback, and he will likely give up some big plays as a rookie that will leave most Cowboys fans very upset, but there is no denying that he is an absolute ballhawk with great overall athleticism. And as a return man?
I’d be willing to bet that he flips the outcome of at least one game as a rookie with an impact return.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.