Scouting the Cowboys' Draft Picks: RB Darius Jackson | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Scouting the Cowboys' Draft Picks: RB Darius Jackson

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Dallas Morning News
    Cowboys rookie running back Darius Jackson (right) gets the ball from rookie quarterback Dak Prescott during the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp at Valley Ranch in Irving May 6, 2016. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)

    Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan
    Ht. 6'1", Wt. 220, Arm: -, Hand: -, Bench: 20
    40 yd: 4.35, 10 yd.: 1.56, 3 Cone: 6.82, Vertical: 41", Broad: 11'1"

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    Jackson was named all-area as an Illinois high schooler where he played quarterback, running back and safety. He enrolled at Eastern Michigan, where he accumulated only 136 touches during his first three years. Named the starter as a senior, he scored 16 touchdowns, ran for 1,088 yards on 208 carries and added 21 catches for 201 yards.

    Jackson did not receive and invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, so he relied on his pro day to wow scouts with his exceptional athleticism. His 3-cone time would have been tops among running backs at the combine and his 40-yard time would have ranked. The Cowboys took a chance on the home run threat in the sixth round of the draft, 216th overall.

    Strengths

    • Athleticism - Elite measurables for the position
    • Frame - Ideal NFL size
    • Feet - Quick, cuts on a dime
    • Space - Thrives with a head of steam
    • Receiving - Variety of routes from backfield, slot

    Weaknesses

    • Production - Limited success in college
    • Pad Level - Runs tall
    • Vision - Misses openings
    • Concedes Tackles - Doesn't maximize runs

    Verdict: Worth a Gamble

    Jackson reminds me a lot of Darren McFadden. They're similar in size, they're both home run threats and they thrive in space, but Jackson is much more raw as a runner. Neither are particularly adept between the tackles, though Jackson's supporting cast at Eastern Michigan didn't do him many favors.

    Day 3 of the draft is where teams take risks and acquire depth. Jackson is definitely the former, as they were likely intrigued by the athleticism that earned him a pSPARQ of 149.4 (98.8 percentile), third best among draftable running backs. The team lacked a seventh round pick, so they risked a sixth-round comp pick on a player they liked but weren't sure they could sign after the draft.