Drake Jackson NFL Draft 2022: Scouting Report for USC EDGE

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor I

BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans lines up on defense against the Colorado Buffaloes during a game at Folsom Field on October 2, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

HEIGHT: 6'2 5/8"


HAND: 10 1/8"

ARM: 34"

WINGSPAN: 6'10 5/8"





BROAD: 10'7"


— Great length. Long arms that he uses well to keep blockers out of his frame.

— Very good first step and acceleration. Wins the corner in a hurry.

— Good foot quickness and agility. Dangerous when given space as a pass-rusher.

— Flashes of good flexibility. Can drop hips and get low, as well as widen out with flexible ankles.

— Good lateral agility. Can work across the line of scrimmage quickly.

— Moments of above-average upper-body strength.

— Was occasionally used as a coverage defender, both man and zone.


— Run defense is dependent solely on his initial punch.

— Below-average play strength against the run.

— Can be slow to react to the ball-carrier and come off blocks.

— Long, clunky strider as a pass-rusher. Struggles to gather himself when flying around the edge.

— Below-average lower-body strength and balance. Struggles to maintain his rushing path through contact.

— Hand usage needs work. Not much in the arsenal besides a basic rip-and-dip and a stab.


10 G, 37 TOT, 8 TFL, 5 SK, 1 FF, 1 FR


— Three-year starter.

— 4-star recruit in 2019.

— Dropped 25 pounds since his freshman season. Was listed at 275 pounds in 2019.


Drake Jackson is a toolsy pass-rusher who may benefit a good deal from NFL weight training and coaching.

As a three-year starter for the Trojans, Jackson was deployed almost exclusively on the edge, both as a stand-up player and with his hand in the ground. He looked more comfortable the wider his alignment was, particularly as a pass-rusher. USC even dropped him into coverage out of wider alignments from time to time.

Jackson explodes out of his stance as a pass-rusher and follows that up with good acceleration in his next few steps. From there, his ability to turn the corner is inconsistent. He can get low and he flashed good flexibility, but his poor lower-body strength often allowed him to be knocked off his path. Right now, Jackson is reliant on his speed and agility to avoid or minimize contact. It's a good pitch to have, but that could be an issue if that's all he has, which is the case for now.

In run defense, Jackson needs to add some strength. He flashes a strong initial punch, but whenever that fails him, he is regularly pushed off his spot. Jackson could stand to widen his base a bit and find more ways to play through blocks rather than around them. He does well to chase players in space from the back side, though.

Jackson should be a stand-up outside linebacker in the NFL, at least until he adds some more lower-body strength to hold up as a legit defensive end. His length, speed and moments of bend around the edge are enticing, but it's worth wondering if he can develop any other pass-rushing tools or hold up better against the run. Jackson can be an effective No. 2 out of the gate while he works on adding strength and nuance to his game.

GRADE: 7.7 (Potential Impact Player - 2nd Round)