Atlanta needs to improve its pass rushing options, and Jackson Jeffcoat of the Texas Longhorns should be an intriguing fit for Mike Nolan’s defense. Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Jeffcoat has a workout scheduled with the Falcons.
UT's Jackson Jeffcoat has a visit set up to the Steelers and private workouts with the Falcons, Jaguars and Colts.— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) March 26, 2014
This is good news for both Jeffcoat and the Falcons, as he’s a good fit for the defense and has experience in a very similar one. Atlanta could use Jeffcoat as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Either way, he’s going to see similar gap responsibilities and pass rush roles.
University of Texas
Combine/Pro Day Measurements
Height: 6'3" Weight: 247 pounds
Arm Length: 33-7/8" Hand Measurement: 9-5/8"
40-yard dash: 4.63 sec. 10-yard split: 1.60 sec.
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 sec. 3-cone Drill: 6.97 sec. Bench Reps: 18 reps
Vertical Jump: 36.0" Broad Jump: 10'3"
2013: 13 Games Played, 82 Tackles, 19.0 Tackles for Loss, 13.0 Sacks, 15 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 4 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick
2012: 6 Games Played, 28 Tackles, 9.5 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2011: 13 Games Played, 63 Tackles, 17.0 Tackles for Loss, 8.0 Sacks, 7 QB Hurries, 3 Pass Deflections
2010: 8 Games Played, 13 Tackles, 3.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Pass Deflection
Jeffcoat understands how to use his long arms and quickness in the run game. He sheds blocks effectively and delivers a great punch with his lead hand that allows him to control the blocker and set the edge on runs to the outside.
He has three years worth of experience in a defense that is highly similar to Mike Nolan’s multiple-front defense. He also is an adequate pass rusher who has one of the best motors in the draft. He also has a very high football IQ that allows him to diagnose plays quickly and effectively.
Jeffcoat needs to bulk up the lower half of his body, as he has chicken legs. He also needs to get more fluid in his movements so that he can learn how to bend the edge properly. He takes way too many false steps when trying to pass rush and would be better served to learn the right way to do it.
He also needs to make sure that he maintains his low center of gravity when rushing from a down position. He could be an even better run defender if he had better strength to not get pushed back quickly against the bigger, stronger tackles.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Jeffcoat was never arrested nor suspended. He also is a unique athlete at defensive end in that he has long arms, big hands and a 3-cone drill time under 7.00. In addition to all of that, he was a team captain for the Longhorns in 2013.
On top of that, his father is Jim Jeffcoat—a former Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills defensive lineman. As a senior with four years of experience, Jeffcoat also won the Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive end in the nation.
Jeffcoat is a very good all-around player who will be productive at the next level. However, he will have to gain some leg weight and strength in the NFL before he truly can break out. He’s not going to be an ideal fit for everyone. Those who like him will be willing to spend as high as a second-round pick for him.
He needs to spend some time with a pass-rushing coach who can teach him the proper way to go after a quarterback. As he stands right now, he only wins in pass rush with his patented "Never give up" method of not quitting when going after the quarterback.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
Jeffcoat could go as high as the second round of the draft. Atlanta could easily be targeting him for the early part of the third round. He has the athleticism and agility to be effective as a 3-4 outside linebacker in a role without much coverage responsibility.
Atlanta would use him in a very similar role to how it used John Abraham in 2012. Basically, he’d drop back somewhere between 50 and 70 times if he saw the same level of snaps. He’d be primarily an edge rusher who would attack both standing up or with his hand in the dirt from either side.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.