"Name me one player from Alabama that has had as much success in the NFL as they did in college. See, I told you. Alabama guys are just a product of a system. Saban run those guys into the ground. He teaches them his own college version of the game and it doesn't translate. They can't play individually. It's the system that makes them."
I can't tell you how many times I've had to have that exact conversation with someone over the years and how much harder I roll my eyes every time I hear it.
The whole point of scouting is to separate these prospects from their system. It's to put them under a microscope and look at who they are as football players in translatable ways that can identify universal traits that can transcend each level of the game. Often times, guess what, Alabama players are good at football -- even outside the Crimson and White that they wear.
There are many things that go into future production and fulfilling a draft status in the NFL. Fit is an element of scouting we talk about in the pre-draft process that seems like something we brush over and don't harp on much, but the reason for that is because ultimately we have zero control over that. The truth is, it means a lot. When you're scouting a player, you just have to hope that they get into the hands of the right coaches on a competent team.
All of that said, regardless of what team you were, you should have drafted safety Eddie Jackson -- at least a lot higher than where he ended up getting selected, that's for sure.
When Jackson intercepted Lions quarterback Matt Stafford's pass to seal the Bears' victory on Thanksgiving day this year, he recorded the fifth pick-6 of his career. After doing so, Rotoworld's Josh Norris pointed out that Jackson has just one less touchdown than Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones since the start of 2017.
That is in-sane.
That pick was also the second time in five days, that Jackson delivered a big fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown. Stafford was just the latest name added to the list of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford and Kirk Cousins, quarterbacks who Jackson has intercepted already in his career.
No player in the NFL has more defensive touchdowns than Jackson over the last two years, and these are just his first two years in the league. Jackson is teaching us a very important lesson about the current age of NFL football and why players like him should be coveted even more than they are.
Jackson was drafted No. 112 overall in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After a junior season at Alabama, in which he recorded six interceptions from his safety position, Jackson recorded just one in his final year due to injuries that lingered and ultimately ending his season prematurely. Many of us (not Kyle Crabbs), did not take into account the weight of that six-interception season in 2015, specifically the emphasis on having a instinct for takeaways.
As the NFL has become more and more of a passing league, many defensive players and defensive coordinators have been left helpless in figuring out what works best or even what works at all. They seem to say that the only thing that matter is takeaways, but their philosophy doesn't always lineup with what they preach.
In today's age of defense in the NFL, teams are going to move the ball on you. Three and outs are much more on the failures of the offense than anything the defense does. Moving the ball between the 20s seems like something that is done with ease across the league. Knowing that, pairing aggressive styles of defense with a little bit of luck seems to be the only recipe for a championship nowadays on that side of the ball. You have to have an aggressive pass rush and you have to have players in the backfield behind them that have a knack and an instinct for takeaways. The only way you win in this league is by getting more possessions than the other team. Takeovers are how you control that.
I do not see enough teams putting enough emphasis on defensive college football players who starve to make a ball theirs. You can be a good football player, but if you can't take the ball away, you're no good to me. Offense are too good; the quarterbacks are too good; the mismatch tight ends and slot players are too good; the offensive coordinators are too good. If you let them keep the ball, they'll beat you. It's just a matter of time.
You have to take the ball away from them.
You have to draft guys like Eddie Jackson.