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Cowboys DE Joe Jackson is Underrated Contender in 2020 Roster Battle

It happens almost every year around this time; a fresh crop of NFL rookies come in and steal most of the attention and hype from the last one. One 2019 draft pick who finds himself nearly forgotten now is Defensive End Joe Jackson. But the sophomore deserves to be mentioned among the contenders for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2020 roster.

A 5th-Round pick last year, Joe had a strong enough training camp and preseason to make the team. When Dallas needed to make room for Robert Quinn to join the roster in Week 3, the Cowboys opted to cut former 1st-Round pick Taco Charlton rather than lose Jackson.

The numbers at defensive end last year didn’t afford him much playing time. Jackson only dressed for five games and played on just 6.6% of Dallas’ defensive snaps. But he still remained a solid developmental asset coming into his second season.

Then came the 2020 NFL Draft and the arrival of a new 5th-Round DE, Bradlee Anae. Seen as one of the biggest “steals” of the draft, plus the overall excitement of this strong rookie class, Anae’s joined the Cowboys with much more fanfare than Joe Jackson did.

But really, how superior a prospect is Anae than Jackson?

One outlet called Joe Jackson “expendable” following the 2020 Draft. Is this accurate, or just a common symptom of recency bias?

Jackson, Jelks are Sleepers to Keep an eye on
Dallas Cowboys DE Joe Jackson

One interesting comparison can be found using Lance Zierlein’s scouting profiles for both Joe Jackson and Bradlee Anae heading into their respective drafts. Despite the difference in hype, the scouting reports for both were fairly even.

Click here for Joe Jackson’s 2019 Draft prospect profile.

Click here for Bradlee Anae’s 2020 Draft prospect profile.

There was some slight variance in Anae’s favor. He received a 6.12 overall grade compared to a 6.10 for Jackson. He was classified as having potential in “Rounds 3-4,” while Jackson was only called a “Round 4” prospect.

But again, these evaluations are relatively even.

This article isn’t intended to downgrade Bradlee Anae in any way. He was a steal for where Dallas got him and you have every right to be excited.

But it was just a year ago that Joe Jackson also fell to the Cowboys in the 5th Round, then lived up to that perception with a strong training camp. He earned his way onto the roster and helped push Taco Charlton off of it.

Calling this 2nd-year prospect “expendable” now, just because the Flavor of the Offseason has changed, isn’t good analysis. Jackson has added a year of professional development on top of his perceived upside and will be an even stronger contender in 2020.

What do you think?

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Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. I like Jackson a lot. Tough kid who plays with power and has good pass rushing moves. Reminds me of former Cowboy Greg Ellis. Like Ellis, Jackson is not a great athlete but plays the run well and has has some pass rush skills.

  2. I would love to see him stick around. But why not convert him into a linebacker. In the 3-4 hybrid scheme that Mike Nolan likes to run I think he would fit perfect.. He could possibly also be an outside linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. Maybe in their base run package. They just need to find a way to use him. Hope he sticks around…..

  3. Well said. Excited for Jackson’s opportunity. Thought he should have played more last year. Good article!

  4. I think Joe Jackson will be a good young player for the Dallas Cowboys for a long time if this coaching staff allow him a opportunity to showcase his talent

  5. Don’t forget… the final roster cut leaves us (all teams) with 55 players instead of 53! That’s humongous. We gonna keep Jackson

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