Typically when a sixth round pick is signed, it makes little news. But Darius Jackson became a fan favorite in Dallas during the 2016 preseason, and his return has many fans wondering what he can bring to the 2018 roster.
Of course, with Ezekiel Elliott as the starting running back it's unlikely Jackson will get much time at all in the backfield. But, to put the signing into context, I thought I'd go back and see what was written about Darius Jackson when the Cowboys actually drafted him.
After the 2016 NFL Draft I published a film review/scouting report on Darius Jackson, citing why I was also rather excited about the pick. The excitement can be boiled down to two main factors: his fit within the Cowboys run scheme, and his traits.
At the 2016 NFL Combine, Darius 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.
That's freaky. And that athleticism shines on film.
“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.”
“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.”
What made, and still makes, me so excited about Darius Jackson is that not only is he able to play that Lance Dunbar role, but he also possesses the size and strength to be an every down back. Jackson runs with physicality, and is tough to bring down by just arm tackling.
When you meet Darius Jackson in the hole, you better bring it.
While I still love Jackson as a prospect, the odds he even makes the final roster remain slim. Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon Austin are expected to receive the bulk of the carries in this offense, and Rod Smith has proven more in the league than Jackson has to this point.
Back in 2016 I thought Jackson had a real chance to stick around with the Cowboys due to Darren McFadden's poor scheme fit and Alfred Morris' age, but the emergence of Rod Smith makes Jackson's margin for error very thin heading into 2018.
Regardless, I like that the Cowboys have brought Jackson back and given him a chance to prove himself.