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Sean’s Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for Cowboys Offense 1

The Dallas Cowboys reunited with Running Back Darius Jackson yesterday, officially restoring their entire 2016 draft class back onto the roster. Always a fan-favorite player, Jackson was of course waived by the Cowboys near the end of his rookie season to make room for Darren McFadden.

McFadden carried the ball 24 times over the final four games of that season, which turned out to be his last meaningful action in the NFL. Still awaiting his first regular season attempt, Jackson found himself in Cleveland after being waived by Dallas.

Ending his rookie campaign as an inactive member of the Browns roster, Jackson is only rejoining an even deeper group of running backs for the Cowboys in 2018.

It will be up to Darius Jackson to show what type of burst and athleticism he still has as a potential change of pace back, whether he is auditioning for an improbable spot on the Cowboys roster or elsewhere.

For now, Jackson is again a component to Scott Linehan's offense. Here is his full scouting report, based on Jackson's preseason work with the Cowboys in 2016.

RB Darius Jackson: Strengths


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The 216th overall pick of the 2016 Draft, it is easy to see why so many Cowboys followers wasted no time claiming Darius Jackson as their "pet cat". Jackson is a smooth athlete that has no problem sticking his foot in the ground and bursting through the smallest holes with good pad level.

When Jackson is given space to work with, something the Cowboys offensive line can consistently produce for him should Jackson earn the reps, he effortlessly takes away defender's angles to him in the open field. It takes only the slightest misdirection for Jackson to beat would-be-tacklers in space, driving for extra yards with quick feet and a low center of gravity.


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At his best, Jackson is decisive in picking up his blocks to create explosive plays. On the carry above, Jackson is able to pick up speed to the outside as he recognizes the second-level block from his TE - freeing him outside the numbers.

If the Cowboys offense is to remain on schedule this season, Ezekiel Elliott will undoubtedly lead the way for this rushing attack. With the team seemingly uncertain of who they trust to take Elliott off the field, Darius Jackson has a real chance to prove himself as the three-down back the Cowboys saw when drafting him as their second RB selected at the 2016 Draft.


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Catching passes out of the backfield comes naturally to Jackson. Not the cleanest route runner, Jackson does well enough to shift through his gears when in the pattern to create space and be a real threat on loose plays.

The touchdown above remains the only time in Jackson's career where he's found the end zone.

RB Darius Jackson: Weaknesses

Despite his lack of availability through two frustrating seasons in the NFL so far, Darius Jackson's biggest weakness is his inability to survive initial contact. There are a stunning amount of "almost" plays on Jackson's tape, where marginal gains could have been explosive ones if Jackson could run with slightly more power and a bigger stride.

This is a light-footed running back that doesn't like 'picking through trash' at the line of scrimmage or being forced to stop his feet. Similarly to this year's seventh round draft pick for Dallas, Jackson is like rookie Bo Scarbrough in needing blocks to set perfectly in front of him to have a chance.

Where Scarbrough made a name for himself at Alabama as a punishing runner, Jackson broke Eastern Michigan records thanks to his straight line speed and vision. Unfortunately, these are both traits that were neutralized to a fairly effective extent by the defenses Jackson faced in the preseason of 2016 - his only competition at this level.


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Not knowing any other way to run the ball, Jackson will often waste lateral steps in an attempt to outrun any defender. The play above stands out as a great example of this. Instead of trusting his first read and attacking the LB (#54) up the field, Jackson bounces the play in hopes of a seal on the edge that never comes. This indecisiveness actually allows the linebacker to continue his pursuit of Jackson, picking up the angle to eventually trip him up with a low tackle.

RB Darius Jackson: Summary

The Dallas Cowboys are truly going to great lengths in retooling their offense for success in 2018. Whether you believe it was regression from Dak Prescott, mounting injuries, or Scott Linehan's play calling that held this unit back a year ago, the Cowboys are set to look drastically different around Prescott, Elliott, and a league-best offensive line.

Darius Jackson has a long way to go in earning a share of this Cowboys workload entering his third season. Lacking the next-level traits to stand out over a bulk of carries, Jackson's time to shine will be the Cowboys ongoing OTAs without pads on.


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Problem being, the same goes for running backs like Rod Smith, Tavon Austin, and Bo Scarbrough, who have all proven they can also play in pads and hold a distinct role in this versatile offense. The Cowboys would not have signed Jackson if they didn't feel there was a potential role for him here, and whether or not that role is merely as a camp and preseason body will be entirely determined by Darius.

Having to go all the way back to the preseason of 2016 to find pre-injury tape for Darius Jackson, I'll be keeping a close eye on how the Cowboys RB looks early on in his second stint with the team.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for Cowboys Offense" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.


Star Blog

Tyron Smith Named Most “Underpaid Veteran” On Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady



Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: T #77 Tyron Smith 1

Counting the pockets of Cowboys star players has become a favorite activity of the national media this offseason, as everyone tries to figure out how Dallas will structure the deals for their young players over the course of the next year.

While trying to figure out what the new deals will look like, it's worth reflecting on how well the team did on some of their past negotiations. The Ringer released an article this week naming the most underpaid veteran on each NFL roster, with Tyron Smith earning that honor for the Cowboys.

Smith, who signed his extension with the team back in 2014, is under the deal until the 2024 season. That 8 year extension was lucrative at the time for sure, but as the salary cap rises and other offensive tackles have gotten paid, it looks more like a bargain deal for Dallas by the second.

"A long contract is a bad deal for an elite player in a league in which revenue grows handily. The salary cap was $133 million in 2014, but it’s $188.2 million for 2019. So while the Cowboys have 41.5 percent more money to spend, Smith hasn’t had a raise in five seasons. The Cowboys essentially locked up one of the best tackles of his generation for his entire career."

When put like this, you can see just what a steal of a contract the Cowboys signed Tyron Smith for. Smith is inked for the entirety of the prime of his career, and has very little leverage for a holdout given how many years still remain on this deal.

On the field, Tyron Smith remains one of the best left tackles in all of football, even if back issues have forced him to miss some time over the last two seasons. Smith should remain a top contributor for the Cowboys for at least a few more years, all of which will come at a bargain for a Cowboys team looking to execute some salary cap gymnastics next offseason.

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Star Blog

PFF Ranks Cowboys Run Defense 13th In The NFL

Kevin Brady



Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys duo of young linebackers took the NFL by storm in 2018.

Rookie Leighton Vander Esch and former second round pick Jaylon Smith played well above expectations, as for the first time in years Dallas did not face a significant drop off in defensive production when Sean Lee was out and injured.

These young linebackers are the cornerstone of a run defense which should be among the league's best going forward, and Pro Football Focus agrees. Well, somewhat agrees.

PFF ranked all 32 run defenses heading into the 2019 season, slotting the Cowboys 13th overall. Better than half the league, but not quite top 10.

PFF's reasoning behind this ranking certainly makes sense, as they credit the young linebacker duo without mentioning much of what will be in front of them helping to stop opposing running games.

"The Cowboys’ run defense begins and ends with the league’s best young linebacker duo. Leighton Vander Esch ranked third in run-stop percentage as a rookie while Jaylon Smith checked in at 29th."

The playoff loss in Los Angeles has left a bad taste about the Cowboys' interior defensive line in a lot of mouths, but I do think they've improved the unit this offseason. Signing Christian Covington and drafting Trysten Hill was a nice start to do so, but having Maliek Collins healthy and Antwaun Woods back for a full season will also go a long way.

Interestingly enough, two of the Cowboys divisional foes came in ranked above them on this list. Washington was slotted as the 12th best run defense, while Philadelphia was placed at number 8. Both teams' units deserve respect, of course, but this further highlights how difficult it could be to run the ball in the NFC East this season.

While I hate simply throwing this term around, analytics suggest that passing is what wins games in the NFL. Passing and stopping the pass, I should say.

With strong run defenses in their division, the Cowboys will need to maximize their passing game efficiency if they want to repeat as NFC East champions.

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Star Blog

3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season

Matthew Lenix



3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season

Amari Cooper changed life for the entire Dallas Cowboys offense in 2018. Finally, Quarterback Dak Prescott has the number one option at wide receiver he's desperately needed since his rookie campaign. Now, after half a season and multiple playoff games under his belt in Dallas, Cooper is set to have a monster year. Here are three specific reasons why.

1. Culture

Head Coach Jason Garrett has established a certain way of doing things in Dallas since taking over in 2010. His constant search for the RKG or "Right Kinda Guy" as he puts it has the culture in the locker room at a very positive and productive place. As criticized as he is, justifiably or not, he has his team all on the same page. This is something Cooper has been trying to find since he entered the league in 2015. An organization with the right mindset in order for him to perform and maximize his skill set. After being traded to Dallas, Cooper opened up in November about being unhappy during his days in Oakland.

"I wasn't really happy in Oakland or anything like that. But when I sat and thought about it [Monday} night, I thought about the fact that they traded me away. I don't know how to feel about it," Cooper told Yahoo Sports.

This may seem small to others considering these players make millions of dollars right? Well, it doesn't change the fact that they're human. When you feel unappreciated you don't play to the best of your abilities. Shortly after the trade, Cooper talked about how he's been different since putting a star on his helmet. "I feel like it did change me, as far as having that chip on my shoulder. Not that I wasn't passionate before, but playing with more passion, trying to intentionally have fun out there. It definitely has changed me, in terms of me going out there and just having fun with it," Cooper said. A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered for Cooper and the Cowboys.

2. The other weapons around him

The Cowboys aren't just Amari Cooper or bust at the wide receiver position. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb provide more challenges for defenses on a weekly basis. Gallup has firmly locked down the number two spot on the depth chart. It took a while for him to establish chemistry with Dak Prescott, as they would misfire on several big plays during the first half of the season. Nonetheless, by seasons end things started to pick up, and he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he scored a touchdown in the Cowboys Wild Card win over Seattle. The next week against the Rams he performed well even in defeat, with 6 receptions for 119 yards. He's got speed, size, and versatility. Now with a full season and two games of playoff experience under his belt, I look for even more production from Gallup, as a possible breakout star.

Randall Cobb is a much-needed upgrade in the slot for the Cowboys. Unlike former receiver Cole Beasley, Cobb can line up inside or outside. Giving new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore a bigger bag of tricks at his disposal. Now, he can lineup Cooper inside or outside and play with a plethora of different looks, keeping defenses off balance because of the uncertainty of how the Cowboys will attack through the air.

Then, of course, there's Ezekiel Elliott. The two-time rushing champion is the tone-setter on offense and dictates how defenses will attack. With Cooper being such a threat in the air you basically have to pick your poison. 8-9 man fronts against the run can make you vulnerable to play action down the field or quick slants with Cooper's exceptional route running. The more productive Elliott is the more honest it keeps opposing defenses, opening up more opportunities in the passing game. Averaging 101.2 yards per game for his career, second all-time to Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Elliott can make create even more opportunities for Cooper in 2019 with a full season of playing time together.

3. Motivation

Amari Cooper is currently looking to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys. Preferably, both sides would like to get this deal done before the season starts considering he's in the last year of his rookie contract that is set to pay him 13.9 million in 2019. However, it isn't just a new deal that motivates Cooper heading into the new season.

"It's kind of a weird situation, just being that I've never been in this situation before, talking about a contract. But also, I'm under a fifth-year option, so I'm not too familiar with it. I really don't ask my agent many questions. I'm not really worried about it that much. I'm more focused on actually playing and really earning the respect and then the contract," Cooper said.

Being motivated by earning respect is a very mature approach from Cooper. Now, add that to the fact that I'm sure he wants to firmly put his name alongside Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, and Michael Thomas as the best receivers in the game, you have a fully motivated number one option heading into the new season.

Amari Cooper has already made three pro bowls, but now there's another level for him to reach. In just nine games last year with the Cowboys he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also, he caught another 13 on 18 targets in the playoffs for 171 yards and a score. He's in the right culture, he has a number of other weapons around him and he has multiple reasons to be motivated heading in the new season. With a full offseason of building chemistry with Dak Prescott, I see Cooper taking that leap to the All-Pro level in 2019.

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