2022 NFL Draft Profile: Air Force DL Jordan Jackson
The Falcons defensive end has the rare opportunity to go from the Academy to the NFL. Will NFL teams see enough in him to provide a chance?
A rare caliber of cadet athlete.
Jordan Jackson has been selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 194th overall pick, in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 30, 2022
The career of one of the most distinguished defensive lineman to come through the Air Force Academy concluded in December, after the Falcons Bowl victory. Jordan Jackson arrived at the Academy in 2017, and has been disrupting opposing offenses ever since.
The rare case at Air Force, Jackson saw the field as a freshman (a year removed from Prep School). Not only was he a starter from his sophomore season on, but he was a distinguished as an All Mountain West Conference Team selection each of those seasons (2019 as an honorable mention).
It should come as no surprise that despite being a defensive tackle sitting in the trenches, Jackson is high on multiple career leader charts. He ranks 8th all-time in Air Force history with 176 yards on tackles for loss (27 career TFL’s) and 3rd all-time with 136 of those lost yards coming off of his 15 sacks.
Jordan Jackson participated in a well represented pro day at the Academy earlier this year, and most notably, Jackson was invited to participate in the NFL combine. The commencement of a college career of excellence in athletics and academics has landed at the doorstep of the NFL. Now the question is, will he hear his name called in this year’s NFL draft?
Measurables (taken from Mockdraftable and Dane Brugler)
40-yard time – 4.95 seconds
10-yard split time – 1.76 seconds
Vertical jump – 30 1/2″
Broad jump – 9′ and 4″ (or 112″)
Shuttle time – 4.40 seconds
3-cone drill time – 7.20 seconds
Bench press – 18 reps
#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.
Now up to 4.5 sacks and 6.5 TFLs this season. pic.twitter.com/5RihBAz0ht
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 20, 2021
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) November 26, 2021
One of the things that stands out if you look at Jordan Jackson’s career is his ability to be disruptive in critical moments. Go back through games decided by one score, and observe who is most affecting the opposing offenses final drive.
Statistics are the first thing to garner attention, but chaos that Jackson created in the trenches can’t be ignored. As a defensive tackle anchored in a three-man front, you aren’t typically going to post gaudy sack numbers. But the way you stand out is by blowing up the interior line, and eating up multiple blockers.
There have been a lot of benefactors to the attention that Jackson demands from the opposition, as you need look no further than the accompanying positions named to the All-Conference Team in the given years Jackson has played. His ability to draw multiple blockers helped players like Mosese Fifita, Demonte Meeks and Vince Sanford be menaces in their own right, just to name a few.
One of the greatest abilities one can attribute to a player is their ability to raise the level of play of their teammates. Jackson has showed time and again, he makes the players around him better.
Unless you are an avid follower of Air Force football, one of the things that will be lost in an evaluation of Jordan Jackson is his versatility. With depletion at nose guard, there were many times that Jackson found himself lining up at the nose position to fill a need. Combine that, along with the scheme that the Falcons deploy on defense, and even the most outstanding defensive tackles aren’t commonly going to fill the stat sheets.
If you read a lot of the NFL analysts, there are remarks around a lack of productivity consistently, much of which can be attribute to positioning. However, this is the highest level of competition, and the most granular details will be scrutinized, and flaws exposed. In that, some lack of use of technique is pointed to at times, which in the Mountain West, a superior athlete can at times compensate with ability. Such is usually not the case in the NFL.
Most draft prognosticators evaluate Jackson as a high-priority free agent, or late round draft pick at best. The same evaluations are also quick to acknowledge there is so much to work with in Jackson, that the things which may be seen as “limiting” are also addressable. Ultimately, Jordan Jackson may follow a similar path to George Silvanic from the prior year; go undrafted and catch on as a free agent post draft. Practice squad or draftee, Jordan Jackson is an NFL talent.