NAME: Michael Jackson
JERSEY: No. 28
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 200 lbs
Man Cover Skills –Physical. Like his re-route ability at the LOS to filter his receiver up the field effectively and transition into the trail position. Looks to pin and squeeze receivers into the boundary in efforts to diminish throwing windows. Comfortable playing with back to the ball.
Zone Cover Skills –Tasked with playing bail technique in Cover 3, has ability to hinge the hips open but will play zone soft and transitions hinder ability to get back into the catch point. More effective in shallow zones to use wingspan to disrupt throwing lanes.
Feet/Change of Direction –Patient at the line of scrimmage, is effective in waiting out route releases and nailing down a firm stab to jam up the upfield push. Is not especially dynamic in this area but he’s an under control athlete on the hip of receivers and can excel in man to mirror the route breaks.
Ball Skills –Has made several excellent interceptions throughout his career, will locate the football late in the rep and show strong hand-eye coordination. Plays through the hands of receiver at the catch point, has dislodged several targeted balls that could have been caught.
Flexibility –Mobility in the hips is modest but effective. Capable of working his shoulders around in turn and run situations, as well as opening his hips to play bail technique off the line. Biggest restriction is the lack of spring and power in lateral situations (like the top of route stems).
Acceleration –Long speed doesn’t appear to be one of this better skills, has given up a bit of real estate in deeper targets. Does not have any notable burst or spring in his first step, so transitional quickness is something of a limitation as well.
Zone Spacing –Will struggle on an island in deeper areas to drive on routes stopping in front of his face or breaking inward into soft spaces. Does well to sustain his integrity on deep assignments and does an effective job carrying a vertical stem and then transitioning into flat role.
Competitive Toughness –His demeanor at the LOS is excellent. Imposing with length to get his man off schedule. Would like to see some more power and aggressiveness in shedding blocks on the boundary an in his rally pursuit to the football.
Run Support –If he’s given an alley, he can be very quick to step down and charge…effective defeating quick game into the flats. Against boundary runs or bounced runs, he’s a little too conservative and doesn’t make efforts in shedding his block.
Tackling –His play strength is one of his better qualities, in tackling is no exception. Quick to rip down the ball carrier in wrap up situations and has provided ample amount of pop when provided a free run to ball carriers or receivers on the boundary.
BEST TRAIT – Man Cover Skills
WORST TRAIT – Feet/COD
BEST FILM – Florida State (2018)
WORST FILM – Boston College (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Michael Jackson has attractive qualities as a potential starter in the NFL. Jackson’s size and physicality at the line will serve him well on the boundary. Yet Jackson’s lapses in discarding blocks, tendency to grab just a split second too long on breaks and his modest change of direction skills and burst in space pose as barriers that will make him a scheme specific prospect. Jackson needs to play press-man coverage in order to properly illustrate his strengths.
After two seasons of special teams and spot duty on defense for Miami, Jackson burst onto the scene as a Junior as part of a standout defensive unit for the Hurricanes on defense. Playing in all 13 games and starting 10 in 2017, Jackson racked up 43 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups en route to second-team All-ACC honors.
For a team in search of a long, bulky, physical and athletic boundary corner (who isn’t?), Jackson is an ideal target. Whether it’s coming up in run support or making a tackle on a quick pass or being physical in press or at the catch point, Jackson has outstanding play strength that meets the expectations of his imposing frame. He excels playing close to the line of scrimmage and using his length and physicality to disrupt routes during the release.
While Jackson may not be an ideal candidate to be trusted on an island against a twitchy, speed receivers he is sound in zone coverage and knows how the read the backfield and squeeze throwing windows. He flashed impressive ball skills at times and competes at the catch point with an alpha mentality.
The concern with Jackson comes when he is tasked with duties in off man coverage where his lack of reactionary quickness and tight hips to turn and run can be exposed. Demonstrating growth in that area this season is critical to him not being labeled a scheme-specific prospect. As it stands, his ability to win in off man coverage is not at the same caliber as it is with press and zone.
The ‘Canes defense is loaded with talent and Jackson is among the best players on the unit. He is primed for a big senior season as a clear-cut starter on the boundary and an ascending draft prospect.