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Draft Analysis: Cowboys look for defensive line help in Joe Jackson

The Cowboys add to a defensive line that is getting stronger.

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

After reaching a long-term deal with DeMarcus Lawrence and trading for Robert Quinn, not to mention signing Kerry Hyder, the Cowboys seemed to be pretty set at the defensive end position. Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong Jr. didn’t inspire anyone in 2018 but both could develop in a year or two, and Randy Gregory seems likely to come back at some point in the future, if not in the 2019 season.

But that didn’t stop Dallas from adding another pass rusher off the edge on Saturday with the 165th overall pick. The name is Joe Jackson, and he’s from the Miami Hurricanes, who boasted the third best defense in all of college football last year. Jackson was a big part of that, as he put up 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last year, and he forced two fumbles and had a pick six.

Standing at 6’4” and 275 pounds, Jackson has 34 1/8” arms, which fits the mold of lengthy defensive linemen that Dallas likes. Jackson was leaner when he arrived at Miami but has bulked up to the point where he’s much more of a power rusher. The result has taken away a bit of his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and bend around the corner.

It obviously didn’t make too big of a difference, as Jackson still put up good sack totals. He has good upper body strength and he uses that to strike blockers really well. Jackson needs to develop a deeper set of pass rush moves.

With the Cowboys depth at end, Jackson won’t be forced to play significant snaps right away so he can continue developing into the more rounded edge rusher he needs to be. Working with defensive line guru Rod Marinelli should help him learn more pass rushing moves that he can hone before being elevated to a more consistent role.

Ultimately, Jackson will have to compete with the likes of Charlton, Armstrong, and Hyder to earn a roster spot, but it’s not unrealistic to think he could see a few snaps in 2019. But the idea with taking Jackson has to be that they will sit him for a while and develop him. As it stands, getting a player of Jackson’s caliber at this point in the draft seems to be really good value.

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