At one point during the 2019 NFL Draft, Michael Irvin must have been smiling as the Cowboys selected not one, but two Miami Hurricanes in the fifth round. Both cornerback Michael Jackson Sr. and defensive end Joe Jackson are physical players with excellent athletic ability.
Michael Jackson Sr., 158th overall
Michael Jackson Sr. was the first to hear his name called (158th overall). Against North Carolina State in 2017 he lined up in press man coverage on the right side, Jackson is both patient and focused (see video). The receiver takes an outside release and Jackson physically gets his hands on him and forces his release wider. He shows excellent athleticism to get into phases and run stride for stride with the him. This allows Jackson to look back and make the interception.
Even when he is out of phase, he has the athletic ability to make a play on the ball. Against Virginia Tech in 2017 the receiver gained separation on him, but when the ball was thrown, Jackson was able to get into position to leap into the air and knock it out of the sky.
Jackson is not just skilled in coverage, he is a physical player who can have an impact as a pass rusher. Against Virginia Tech in 2018, He blitzed from the defense’s right. While fellow defensive back Amari Carter rushed the edge taking the left tackle out of the picture, Jackson blitzed inside of Carter, coming free for the sack; however, he was not alone when he got to the quarterback. After lining up at right end, Joe Jackson looped to the inside and was unimpeded on his way to the quarterback.
Joe Jackson, 165th overall
Joe Jackson is a 6-4, 275-pound defensive end who the Cowboys selected with the 165th overall pick. In the very same game against Virginia Tech, Jackson beat the left tackle off the edge with speed and burst. He came free with a dip and rip and finished with a quarterback sack.
Jackson can also rush with power. He showed this in the Hurricanes’ 2017 matchup against Duke. Jackson bull-rushed the left tackle, nearly driving him into the quarterback before coming off to make the sack.
Joe has the versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive front. Against Pitt in 2018 he lined up in a 3-technique outside of the guard. He beat the guard with speed and chased the scrambling quarterback down for another sack.
The Cowboys added two versatile pieces to their defense in the fifth round. Both Michael Jackson Sr. and Joe Jackson have the traits to be contributors in the NFL and will be interesting moving pieces for Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard this season.