2014 NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat

Jackson Jeffcoat is a potential 2014 first-round draft pick with a lot left to prove in 2013. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino

Jackson Jeffcoat was regarded as one of the top recruits in the entire nation coming out of high school in 2010. He had an illustrious high school career and was named state defensive player of the year in Texas as a senior. Coupling that with being the son of former Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat, who played 15 NFL seasons and had over 100 career sacks, the spotlight has shined brightly on Jackson Jeffcoat.

Jeffcoat saw action as a true freshman in 2010, appearing in six games and recording 13 tackles, three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His best statistical season came in 2011 as a sophomore when he recorded 54 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Jeffcoat’s 2012 season was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle. He had 25 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Jeffcoat is listed at 6’5″ and 245 pounds by Texas’ official website. He plays 4-3 defensive end for the Longhorns, but can also be seen standing up as an outside linebacker at times.

Why You Should Watch Jeffcoat in 2013

Jeffcoat utilizes his hands very well. He understands the importance of hand fighting and does a great job jockeying for position.

Jeffcoat has a great first step. He comes off the ball quick and hard. Overall, he plays with good athleticism and has an above-average motor.

Jeffcoat is a good tackler and does a good job of wrapping up quicker, smaller ball carriers in space.

He has the versatility to play defensive end in the 4-3 defensive scheme or outside linebacker in the 3-4. He has done both at times for the Texas defense.

He is a decent pass-rusher who has shown the ability to bend to get around the edge.

Jeffcoat does a good job defending rollout passes to his side and staying at home on reverses. He has made several outstanding plays in his first three seasons defending both.

Jeffcoat appears to be a high-character player who is already involved in several aspects of his community. He should be a consummate professional.

What Jeffcoat Needs to Prove in 2013

Jeffcoat’s biggest weakness is his need to add strength. He does not do a good enough job fighting pressure with pressure and can get blown off the ball on drive blocks.

Jeffcoat is not strong enough at the point of attack to control the line of scrimmage. This was exposed greatly when studying his tape against former Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and California offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who are currently both starting NFL right tackles. He did not fare well against the top players he went up against.

He does not have a wide variety of pass rush moves. He is a dip and rip rusher, which just does not work with enough frequency. He needs to add more skills to his arsenal to apply more consistent pressure.

His awareness is questionable at times. He often gets too far up field on run plays, which can create large running lanes for running backs.

Jeffcoat could make more plays in pursuit if he would squeeze down and trail more consistently. He tends to be late when trailing plays.

Despite showing his versatility on tape, he will need to add weight to be an effective 4-3 defensive end.  At 245 pounds, he could give up almost 100 pounds to his opponent in an NFL game. Ideally, he would increase his weight to 260 pounds if he plays defensive end at the next level.

Projecting Jeffcoat’s Draft Stock

Jeffcoat’s versatility makes him a fit for all teams. However, he doesn’t impact the game enough for me to think of him as a high pick. He has been easily handled by the best players he has faced, and has a lot to prove in 2013.  He needs to build off his success from 2011 and prove that his torn pectoral is completely healed.

The talent is there but his tape is average. I do not have a first round grade on him at this point, and instead grade him as a second-round player. If he can answer questions about his strength, pass-rush moves and awareness, he could easily project much higher. He is a prospect to watch closely.

Tags: Jackson Jeffcoat, Prospect to Watch, Texas

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