FILM ROOM: Examining USC edge-rusher Drake Jackson

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Draft prospect Drake Jackson is an underrated edge-rusher with an incredible skill to bend the edge.

A three-year starter for the USC Trojans, Jackson likely projects as an early Day 2 pick in the 2022 NFL draft. He earned a slew of accolades in 2019 after becoming USC’s first true freshman to start a season opener on the defensive line in a dozen years. But in the eyes of some observers, he didn’t improve substantially as a sophomore or junior.

This may be due to the fact Jackson played a different role each season at USC.

As a freshman, Jackson played as a defensive end from a four-man rush and had B-gap responsibilities in nickel looks. As a sophomore, Jackson shed 35 pounds and played as a stand-up outside linebacker in a hybrid 4-2-5 scheme. He rarely saw the inside.

As a junior in 2021, he saw more looks from a 4-technique (across from the offensive tackle) in a 3-4 defense. Jackson totaled 12½ sacks and 25 tackles for loss in just 26 collegiate games.

Not surprisingly, Jackson has said he can play as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense or as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

With all that in mind, let’s go to the film to see where he fits best.