Did The Dallas Cowboys Strike Gold With Toby Jackson?

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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.

TobyJacksonToby Jackson, DE

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. He had two big sacks in the second half, forcing a fumble on one of them. 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.

Film Study:

TobyJackson2Toby 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 I’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.


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  • Californy

    I look him up yesterday, I couldn’t find any Highlight real from him.  It look like his Football career was base on what he did at the JR College rank. Nice research Cas,  I hope he can make an impact for us this year.

    • His style of play reminds me a lot of Von Miller: I just don’t know what kind of shape he is in now. He hasn’t played in a while. Even if he stayed in football shape, he will need time to knock the rust off.

    • Californy He was a stud at UCF prior to his academic extension.  His style of play reminds me of Von Miller. Even if he stayed in football shape, I am sure he will need time to knock the rust off. He definitely has the intangibles to be a stud.

    • What I really Like is his speed: in fact he runs a 4.7 40 that’s good for DL

      • Californy

        CowgirlCas22 I did know he was this fast I had him in the area of 4.94, we could use this speed.  Didnt you tell me about their HC from Navarro college a couple of days ago, small world I guess.

        • Californy CowgirlCas22 It is a small world lol.  Ya he is real quick faster than Escobar lol

        • Californy

          CowgirlCas22 Californy I am looking how SF Disc Thrower is doing in SF, I heard he an athlete.  I havent heard a peep from him, buy then Atayba Rubin never played defense and he is doing well in the nFL.  I believe Martinelle is a special coach all we need to do is give him the right player  in this system.

        • Californy CowgirlCas22 This system relies on speed: Jackson is a good start

  • Defense 28

    hope he pans out could definately use depth on the d line, hopefully marinelli can get the best out of him.

    • Defense 28 I think he can. Marinelli is a damn good coach. This guy has the tools, if he can grasp the mental aspect of the game: he will be fine.

  • Californy

    Im glad we cut the other player no chance of ever getting his name pronounce or even spelled right.

  • Californy

    I like DL with speed my 2rd rd draft Pick was Margus Hunt extesion he wanted.  I like the 4,60 Speed of Defensive lineman, he was being seen as the next Von Miller. He may play now in Cincy now that they didnt sign one of their player to the extension he wanted.

  • gcarr1213

    Cas just how strong is he? I prefer powerful D lineman over quick ones, same with the offensive line. You can’t teach power, but you can teach technique.

    • gcarr1213 To be honest I don’t know right now: I haven’t seen him play recently. Like I said in the article, I have no idea what type of physical shape he is in right now. I do know he benches over 400 lbs I also know Kiffins speed runs off of speed it isn’t a big boy power scheme.

      • gcarr1213 lol scheme runs off of speed

        • gcarr1213

          CowgirlCas22 gcarr1213 Wasn’t talking about all power, but I was talking about guys like Barkeviuos Mingo who is pure finesse only.

        • gcarr1213 CowgirlCas22 he isn’t that type of player, he is more of a von miller style player

  • gcarr1213

    Do you know of a G that we can trade Miles for cause we have no O lineman and none of them are all that great.

    • gcarr1213  I have an OG article scheduled for 11 am today

  • gcarr1213

    I say trade Miles for a G that is either a rookie or under 2 years in the NFL to someone like the Pats, Ravens, 49ers, Seahawks because those teams need WR bad.

  • coachk5520

    Cas, I saw this kid at camp, and wasn’t impressed in the slightest and in fact asked myself what did the Cowboys see in the tryout that made them sign him other than he’s available?  He was NOT fleet of foot, was slow, and looked clumsy.  On one specific play he was getting blocked by the RT (can’t remember who it was other than it wasn’t free), and was well past the point of using the rip move, but tried anyway, and ended up on his butt.  He’s a waste of space in my opinion. and not a diamond in the rough.  I didn’t see anything in him.  I was on the side of the field where the DEs and DTs were working with Marinelli and Lett and had a close up view of him.  He would be the kind of player that I would consider keeping around if I needed bodies (Nelson #61 was another one I wasn’t impressed with) he didn’t get a lot of reps in practice the day I was there, and maybe he was just rusty, but he looked clumsy.  We’ll find out today though as they will be getting work.  I will be surprised if either one of them do anything in the game.  Hopefully they are what they were in college, but from what I saw at camp they won’t make the team or be around very long.

    • coachk5520 the guy hasn’t suited up in over a yr. I made it clear in the article I have no idea what  type of physical shape he is in now, and that I haven’t seen him play recently. Marinell is the one who worked him out prior to signing him, he must have seen something. My eval is based solely on his college tape. And game film doesn’t lie. Give the kid a chance to knock the rust off, acclimate to the speed of the NFL and to develop a little bit before you start throwing daggers. There are guys on this team that JJ burnt high draft picks on that are getting abused on the field.

  • coachk5520

    Cas, while I agree with your eval based on college tape and an opportunity to knock off the rust seeing him in person, he looked clumsy and slow. As a matter if fact I found it odd that the tape I watched was the same player I saw at camp. He gets another week to prove himself against the Raiders as Taylor was cut. If Jackson doesn’t step up against the Raiders it’ll be his last game with the Cowboys.

  • JonnyStimmell

    I haven’t heard much on Toby the last week or so. I know they recently signed another DE Jabari Fletcher and recently another DE who’s name I can’t remember at this time. It’s not that Stephen Jones and the Cowboys aren’t trying to provide depth for our team , that it just stinks that they gotta wait until we have 3-4 weeks max till week 1. While over in New Jersey Damontre Moore just had a great game against none other then the Pittsburgh Steelers. I with you Cas and hope some of these guys can produce and lock into our coaches brains and really pay off for our boys. I got my figures crossed about the Brian Waters thing as well, hoping that he does sign and comes into camp and gets a week too two weeks of training with our guys. He would be a nice mentor for Frederick and even helpful for Tyrone Smith. Demetress Bell was cleared to practice and I hope this guy can wake up and just know that this is one his last chances to be something. If he could get his game back up, he would be nice to use as backup help. We will all see soon, and one more thing I guess Landon Cohen has been doing a nice job in practice this past week, and thats a good thing. Haven’t heard a peep from Spence or Ratliff lately and it just scares me. Pray every night we can have a healthy year for them. If we do it looks good. Demarcus and Jason H are good to go, baring something stupid happens. This will make our corners so much better having these 4 guys storming the opposing offensive line. I enjoy your article Cas, keep up the great work and never mind the haters. They only hate because your puttin down solid facts, and they are stating their opinions and just like to be bias.