Justin Jackson NFL Draft 2018: Scouting Report for Los Angeles Chargers' Pick

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 28, 2018

Northwestern running back Justin Jackson (21) runs with the ball against Minnesota during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press


—Agile runner with the ability to find creases between tackles.

—Productive workhorse back who holds Northwestern rushing records and has shown consistency in approach to tally over 1,150 rushing yards each season.

—Elusive in the open field with strong spatial awareness to identify open areas at second level.

—Impressive foot speed to stab toes and go; gains acceleration through lateral moves.



—Upright style that lacks any forward lean into or through contact.

—Jackson rarely delivers blows to defenders and is often easily overwhelmed physically by tacklers.

—He'll struggle to carve out a third-down role, lacking the thickness to be a routine pass protector, and is just an average receiver out of the backfield.

—Jackson has a ton of mileage but not the expected college-type production for players with nearly 300 carries per year. Most with these carry numbers would be approaching 2,000 yards if they're legit prospects.



Jackson is a Day 3 prospect who will intrigue teams that can look past the high number of carries and lack of physicality to shed poor tacklers. He's best as a rotating piece in a backfield with an established starter. Jackson offers some variety and quickness in the open field and particularly on special teams, but he'll struggle to be a third-down back with critical responsibilities.


GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

PRO COMPARISON: Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles