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Draft Film Review: Cowboys RB Darius Jackson

The Cowboys running back carousel seemed to finally stop turning when the franchise decided to draft Ohio State stud Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall selection of this years draft.

Following the addition of Alfred Morris, drafting Zeke added another formidable back to an already crowded position group.

Then, in the sixth round, the Cowboys added yet another running back by selecting Eastern Michigan Eagles speedster Darius Jackson.

Though the addition of a second running back in one draft class, especially considering the quality of back which was added in the first round, raised some questions and concerns among fans, Jackson could actually have an impact as a Cowboy.

Darius Jackson is a zone-blocking type of running back who brings a good mix of power and speed. In other words, he may be just what the doctor ordered for a change of pace back in Dallas.

The very first thing that comes to mind when studying Jackson is athlete.

He possesses similar size to Ezekiel Elliott, listed at 6’0″ 220 pounds, but he tested out of this world at the combine. Jackson tested in the 99th percentile in the broad jump, 96th percentile in the vertical jump, and the 94th percentile in the 40 yard dash.

Like I said, athlete.

A lot has been made about the Cowboys following an analytical style rating system, SPARQ, when drafting rookies and considering free agents. The addition of Jackson certainly follows this model, and adds to an already SPARQ-y draft class.

All of the measureables and tests are fun to look at, but how well does he play really play football?

After reviewing the tape, I would say well enough to give himself a shot to contribute as soon as next season.

Darius Jackson Highlights and vs LSU 03 09 2015

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Jackson’s athleticism comes in handy on this play, as he shows off his ability to come out of the backfield as a receiver and make plays. Jackson catches the ball cleanly and gets up-field before being met by two defenders. His athleticism takes over here, as he makes both men miss and gets into the end zone.

If the Cowboys were to consider Jackson as a change of pace type of playmaker in the offense, he could give them plays like this.

Darius Jackson – Eastern Michigan Football – TB – 2015 Old Dominion Games

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Jackson’s athletic ability gives him a chance to score every time he touches the ball. He shows off his vision here, making one cut and leaving the rest of the defenders in the dust.

Darius Jackson *

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While having general speed is great, functional quickness on the field usually matters more. One of Jackson’s best qualities is his quickness, and his ability to get in and out of cuts with quick feet. Jackson shows off his lateral quickness here, and eludes another defender for a touchdown.

Darius Jackson – Eastern Michigan Football – TB – 2015 Old Dominion Games

Make or find animated gifs like Darius Jackson – Eastern Michigan Football – TB – 2015 Old Dominion Games on gifs.com

We see more of Jackson’s ability as a pass-catcher here. He comes out of the backfield on a throw-back screen, immediately gets up-field and then breaks down and splits two defenders to gain some extra yardage.

When Jackson gets into the open field he is dangerous.

Jackson is more than just flash, however. With his build, he is able to combine his speed with physicality and strength to play like a complete back.

Darius Jackson Highlights and vs LSU 03 09 2015

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If you plan on tackling Jackson, you better be able to square up and deliver a blow. He continuously runs through arm tackles while staying low to the ground and keeping his balance. Against LSU here, we get to see some of Jackson’s power.

Of course, Jackson comes with his fair share of weaknesses.

Right off the bat I noticed that he runs way too high. This high pad level gets him into trouble, especially when met by defenders at the line of scrimmage. When he is in the open field he is dangerous, but he struggles making men miss in traffic.

Jackson also relies on his athleticism a little too much, and it results in him failing to finish runs because he braces himself for contact or tries to shimmy away too soon.

I also don’t see a real ability to get the tough yards in Jackson, but considering the role he would play in Dallas I don’t know how much of a concern that will ultimately be.

When I began studying Jackson, I expected to see a Lance Dunbar type of player who could be used in special packages or situations. Instead I saw a guy who could play on almost any down, and has a combination of power and speed which should translate to the next level.

Jackson is a home-run hitting back who can make a big play every time he touches the ball. He fits the Cowboys scheme better than current running back Darren McFadden, while being younger and more athletic than McFadden as well.

I believe that Jackson really does have a serious chance to make this team.

Given the poor scheme fit of McFadden, and the injury history of both McFadden and Lance Dunbar, I see no reason why Jackson shouldn’t have a legitimate shot to make the team as the third back behind Zeke and Alfred Morris.

One thing is for certain, no matter how the running back depth chart shakes out for Dallas, they will be loaded at the position come September.

What do you think?

Kevin Brady

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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