The New Orleans Saints only had 5 picks in this draft when everything was said and done, but they made them count. Outside the first round, the Saints only took defense, taking Alontae Taylor and D’Marco Jackson prior to the pick we will talk about today. That pick is none other than Air Force defensive lineman Jordan Jackson, who was taken 194th overall in the 6th round. In this article I will be covering some of the traits displayed by Jordan, and what he could bring in year 1 and long term to the Saints.
Measurables and RAS
The first thing of note about any prospect would be how they stand up to others at their position both athletically and in terms of measurables. Jordan is 6’4” and 294 pounds, which is reasonable for an edge/DT who has a mix of traits both speed and power. His speed is clearly among the better prospects at DL as he rated above an 8 in his 40-yard dash and 20 split times (4.96 and 2.82 respectively.)
Jordan Jackson was drafted with pick 194 of round 6 in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.13 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 128 out of 1459 DT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/WG1xLZKWYx #RAS #Saints pic.twitter.com/5wDqjfWt5P— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2022
The Saints did not draft any player this year with a RAS below 8 overall, which explains why Jordan Jackson was on their radar as his was largely above average. Being able to build off his physical traits will be the important part with Jordan and giving him time to hone in on technique.
One of the strongest parts of Jackson’s game is his motor, and ability to continue fully through plays until the play ends. At the defensive tackle position, this is sometimes hard to find in later-round prospects, as they may only give 100% for the first few seconds and give up if they cannot get through the OL. This is not the case with Jackson whatsoever, in fact, a lot of his bigger plays last season were cleanup sacks or tackles where he just outlasted the offensive line and had one quick final burst. One of which can be seen on this play against Nevada, where he continually tries to find ways to get to the QB Carson Strong, and eventually finds a gap down the middle to get the sack:
Different Types of Rush Moves and Block Shedding
The other part of Jackson’s game worth noting is the rush moves he utilizes, as well as his ability to shed blocks and get into the pocket. While not an exceptional rusher, he has a pretty good quality bull rush that he uses relatively often when trying to get into the pocket and drive the OL backward. This bull rush is so effective for him because of his functional strength, as he has a much stronger upper body than a lot of interior offensive linemen, so he can use that to his advantage. A good example of this also came against Nevada, where Jordan was able to drive back the IOL multiple times into the pocket and make the QB desperate:
#AirForce DL Jordan Jackson has popped quite a few times against Nevada tonight. Pushed the pocket twice this game, affecting Carson Strong’s second throw and getting the sack on the first.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 20, 2021
Now up to 4.5 sacks and 6.5 TFLs this season. pic.twitter.com/5RihBAz0ht
Then, on top of that, he has the versatility of an edge rusher to where he can get enough bend around offensive linemen to make quick pass rush moves as well. He is able to take a 1 on 1 matchup with a guard and turn it into a situation where he is quickly inside the pocket due to his ability to use his hands to create distance between himself and the blocker, and then hit any gap that forms. A good example came against UNLV in 2021 where Jackson quickly gets into the backfield, sacks the QB, and forces a fumble due to the quick and violent hit:
#AirForce DL Jordan Jackson quickly gets up field and gets the sack plus the forced fumble, being a disruptive force.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 26, 2021
Popped big time last week against Nevada and continuing the play today! pic.twitter.com/hMl2fcu1Zs
Overall, Jackson should be a pretty solid addition to the Saints' defensive line unit and has the versatility to play anywhere along it depending on what formation they want to run. His potential as a DT alongside David Onyemata would be high as he would provide the pass-rushing capability from the inside that the Saints have lacked at the DT2 spot since Sheldon Rankins left.