The Dallas Cowboys have been hit hard with injuries already this training camp, so they have a need for some depth at the defensive end position. Among four players they brought in for a workout, one name stood out to me: DE Toby Jackson. I was impressed with his play before he was expelled from college for academic issues.
Height/Weight: 6-5 265
College: UCF|Navarro JC
- Toby Jackson has had a very strange career since high school. He was a four-star strong side defensive end recruit out of Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., in 2008
- He competed for Steve DeVoursney at Griffin High School
- Coming out of Griffin in 2007, Jackson was the unanimous choice for Class AAAA State Defensive Player of the Year
- He ranked No. 17 in The Sporting News JUCO Super 60
- He was a four-star prospect from Scout out of high school and was rated as the No. 9 defensive end nationally in 2008. He committed to Georgia, despite offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, and USC. This highly ranked recruit was listed above former first round picks Quinton Coples, Datone Jones and Robert Quinn by Rivals.com. There is no record as to why he never actually went to Georgia, but I believe it was due to his struggles with academics.
- Toby Jackson signed with UCF in December 2010 out of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas
- He was rated with four stars from Rivals.com
- He was the No. 12 overall prospect on Rivals.com 2011 Junior College Top 50
- He was coached by Nick Bobeck at Navarro
- He was named the Most Valuable Player in Navarro’s National Championship Game victory against Butler (Kan.) Community College
- Jackson’s No. 2 seeded Navarro upended top-seed and undefeated Butler, 13-12, in the Citizens Bank Bowl on the campus of Pittsburg State (Kan.) University.Ã‚Â He had two big sacks in the second half, forcing a fumble on one of them.Ã‚Â Toby Jackson recorded two other tackles for loss in earning defensive MVP honors
- In 2009, Jackson had 33 total tackles, 12 solo, six tackles for loss and a sack
- Toby Jackson chose UCF over scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, North Carolina, Southern Miss and USF.
Toby Jackson has good height and length. I believe he is best suited to play LDE because he can use his quickness to take advantage of the typically less athletic right tackles. He has good feet and excellent lateral moving ability. He shows that he can play with power; he uses an arm shove to create an inside lane. He has a good swim move and does a nice of job beating the tackle to the edge. He is hard to block because he comes off the snap quick, and he will use the space on the outside to take advantage of the slower RT and gets up the field with quickness. He uses his hands well and is a solid tackler. When engaged, he does a good job of shedding the block. He has a good motor, and he plays the run well.
My biggest concern with Toby Jackson is whether he is ready to handle the mental part of the game. He was ejected from college because of academic issues, but it appears that he had good reasons for his struggles. According to Draft Zone Spotlight, Jackson had this to say about why he had an academic lapse:
“I lost my cousin and grandfather within a three month span and that caused me to lose focus in school which ultimately led to my dismissal from the UCF football team. Since then IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been grinding to get myself in tip top shape to pursue my life-long dream of becoming an NFL football player.”
I have always put a lot of weight on academic success. I don’t know the facts, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. What is more important is his football IQ. From his performance on tape, Toby Jackson has good ‘read-and-react’ skills and instincts. He knew his assignments and never looked lost or confused on the field. Given his potential and raw skills compared to the cost, this is a great deal for the Dallas Cowboys.
I had a decent grade on him before, so I am going to stick with it. I haven’t seen him play for a while, so I don’t know if he is as solid as when I first had my eye on him (or what kind of physical shape he’s in). The bottom line is, the Cowboys have nothing to lose; Toby Jackson is a low-risk high-reward player.
Toby Jackson could very well prove to be a diamond in the rough. I remember a time when I had him rated higher than Datone Jones. If he can grasp Monte Kiffins play book, Rob Marinelli can turn him in to the beast he has the athletic ability to become.