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?
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.
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.