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Why Fred Warner is the prototypical modern linebacker

Why Fred Warner is the prototypical modern linebacker

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NFL Draft Profile: Nick Jackson, Linebacker, Virginia Cavaliers

NFL draft profile scouting report for Virginia linebacker, Nick Jackson

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#6
Pos: LB
Ht: 6010
Wt: 235
DOB: 1/5/01
Eligible: 2022
Atlanta, GA
The Lovett School

Nick Jackson
Virginia Cavaliers


Pros:

Ezring: While productivity is not definitionally achieved by high-level play, the two are often linked. Nick Jackson’s All-ACC season can be attributed to his intelligence and athletic traits. The Virginia linebacker’s lateral agility is by far his best physical attribute. Jackson plays with sound movement skills and change of direction ability. The Atlanta native also has solid functional length which enhances every phase of his play. While the rising junior has a promising all-around skillset, his best work is in run defense. Jackson is instinctive, intelligent and capable of navigating the box seamlessly. He also has the vision to identify and track ballcarriers. The Cavaliers’ standout regularly scrapes along the line from the second level to fill gaps. Further, Jackson uses his hands and quickness to evade blockers on his way to the tackle point. The talented linebacker windows blockers to functionally two-gap. Interestingly, the Virginia star’s run defense reaches another level at the goal line. What’s more, Jackson has proven himself a savvy blitzer. He uses body language to manipulate blockers into false steps before capitalizing with his lateral quickness. Additionally, he has an excellent feel for shooting gaps. Although he has primarily functioned as a downhill linebacker, Jackson has exhibited sufficient coverage ability. He has the physicality and movement skills to cover tight ends in man. In zone, he flashes sound spatial awareness and zone integrity. As a tackler, Jackson has the grip strength, length, strength and technique to consistently finish plays.

Cons:

Ezring: Although the Virginia standout boasts a reasonably high floor, his ceiling is capped by various athletic and technical shortcomings. First and foremost, Jackson lacks long speed and is fairly stiff. At the snap, the talented linebacker has inconsistent play recognition. Specifically, Jackson struggles against play-action and can hesitate while determining the offense’s plan. Against the run, the talented linebacker presses the line too early. In doing so, he precludes himself from windowing and limits his functional range. Jackson also overcommits against zone runs and takes himself out of plays. When taking on blockers, he regularly operates with a high pad level. This is exacerbated by his lack of NFL power in engagement. Additionally, Jackson’s best work against blockers comes behind active hands and lateral quickness. Consequently, he struggles when he initiates contact with his shoulder. While the Cavaliers’ defender exhibits promise in coverage, his poor eye discipline severely limits his impact in pass defense. In man, Jackson’s eyes regularly drift into the backfield. In zone coverage, he can similarly lose his assignment. Moreover, the downhill linebacker sometimes struggles with depth in zone coverage and can be manipulated by the quarterback’s eyes. Finally, Jackson does not offer positional versatility at the second level. He is a MIKE-only prospect.

Summary:

Ezring: A high-floor prospect, Nick Jackson can contribute early against the run and has potential as an every-down linebacker. Further, he offers special teams value on kickoffs. That said, he is limited by his lack of positional versatility, long speed and coverage refinement. 

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Background:

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Nick Jackson had an exciting career at The Lovett School. The talented defender played wide receiver and linebacker in high school and recorded impressive statistics. In just his senior season, Jackson made 95 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble; he also had 26 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns. After his stellar high school career, universities primarily considered the 6’1”, 225-pound talent a linebacker. 247Sports Composite Rankings listed Jackson as a three-star recruit, the 551st-ranked recruit in the nation, the 35th-best outside linebacker recruit in the country and the 58th recruit in the state of Georgia. The sought-after prospect was an immediate contributor upon arriving on campus at the University of Virginia. In his freshman season, Jackson appeared in all 14 of the Cavaliers’ games and started two. In 2020, the gifted linebacker started all ten of the University of Virginia’s games and excelled. His 10.5 tackles per game were good for second in the ACC and 16th in the nation. Further, his 105 total tackles were sixth in the nation and second in the ACC. Additionally, his 5.5 solo tackles per game were second in the ACC and 16th in the country. After his stellar 2020 campaign, Jackson was named third-team All-ACC, Phil Steele second-team All-ACC and Pro Football Focus All-ACC honorable mention. The talented defender was awarded the 2020-2021 Gretchen Savin Macllwaine Football Scholarship. Jackson has not yet declared a major. 


One-Liners

Ezring: A high-floor prospect, Nick Jackson can contribute early against the run and has potential as an every-down linebacker. That said, he is limited by his lack of positional versatility, long speed and coverage refinement.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Ezring: 7.6 / 8.3


#6
Pos: LB
Ht: 6010
Wt: 235
DOB: 1/5/01
Eligible: 2022
Atlanta, GA
The Lovett School

Nick Jackson
Virginia Cavaliers


Pros:

Ezring: While productivity is not definitionally achieved by high-level play, the two are often linked. Nick Jackson’s All-ACC season can be attributed to his intelligence and athletic traits. The Virginia linebacker’s lateral agility is by far his best physical attribute. Jackson plays with sound movement skills and change of direction ability. The Atlanta native also has solid functional length which enhances every phase of his play. While the rising junior has a promising all-around skillset, his best work is in run defense. Jackson is instinctive, intelligent and capable of navigating the box seamlessly. He also has the vision to identify and track ballcarriers. The Cavaliers’ standout regularly scrapes along the line from the second level to fill gaps. Further, Jackson uses his hands and quickness to evade blockers on his way to the tackle point. The talented linebacker windows blockers to functionally two-gap. Interestingly, the Virginia star’s run defense reaches another level at the goal line. What’s more, Jackson has proven himself a savvy blitzer. He uses body language to manipulate blockers into false steps before capitalizing with his lateral quickness. Additionally, he has an excellent feel for shooting gaps. Although he has primarily functioned as a downhill linebacker, Jackson has exhibited sufficient coverage ability. He has the physicality and movement skills to cover tight ends in man. In zone, he flashes sound spatial awareness and zone integrity. As a tackler, Jackson has the grip strength, length, strength and technique to consistently finish plays.

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