Scouting Report: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

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Justin Jackson | 6000-210-30⅝-9¼ | Northwestern | 4SR | 4/22/96


Games Watched:

  • v. (16) Michigan State
  • @ Maryland
  • v. Iowa
  • v. (4) Penn State

Career Stats

Year Games Played Carries Rush Yards YPC GTDs Catches Receiving Yards ATDs
2014 12 245 1187 4.8 10 22 201 1
2015 13 312 1418 4.5 5 21 162 0
2016 13 298 1524 5.1 15 35 219 0
2017 13 287 1311 4.6 11 44 276 0

Accolades

  • 2017 All-BIG10 2nd
  • 2016 All-Bowl Team
  • 2016 All-BIG10 2nd
  • 2015 All-BIG10 2nd
  • Northwestern All-Time Leading Rusher

Injuries and workload

He was number 2 in career touches, 1 in touches in 2017(NCAA and BIG10), 2 in career yards (BIG10), 1, 2, or 3 in the BIG10 all 4 years in college. He was the 9th player in FBS history to have 4 1000 yard seasons. He had 54% of the carries, 57% of the rushing yards, 10% of the catches, and 10% of the receiving yards in 2017 for Northwestern. He took snaps from the slot often in games. He missed no games but, has been listed for a “lower body injury” causing him to miss spring practices in 2016. I have concerns that he has a lot of wear and tear on his body as a 4 year 1000 yard rusher with more than 1200 career touches. He doesn’t have a history of injuries so, he proves he is able to play through the heavy carry load.


Pros:

Best: Work Ethic, Pass protector, Vision

Athletically, he has very good agility and COD, good acceleration and balance, and solid strength. He has a solid, well-built frame. He was a captain and leader, steps up to higher levels of competition, consistent level of play, bounces back from bad/negative plays, and likely plays through injury (despite not being listed for injury, a 4 year workhorse back likely played through injury). Pre-play, he turns to head and eyes to read the field and seems to know where the hole is. He is good at finding playside daylight on Inside and Outside Zone runs and solid at finding daylight on man-blocked runs. He runs with good patience and displays some “home run” vision. He is very good at finding cutbacks on Outside Zone runs and good at finding cutbacks on Inside Zone runs. He is good to very good at making something from nothing on broken man-blocked runs. He has a good to very good jump cut to adjust in the backfield. When getting to the hole, he is good at getting more than what’s blocked, solid at separating from the hole, solid at bursting up to full speed, embraces contact and solid at breaking reach/arm tackles to both upper and lower body. He is good to very good at using elusiveness and good at using strength and balance to evade defenders, using jukes, jump cuts, stiff arms, shoulder charges, chop steps, and back jukes. Through contact, he is physical at POA, fights for extra yards, drives his feet, displays a high motor, is very good at falling forward vs. 1-2 players, and good at falling forward in packs. As a receiver, he is very good at displaying his hands and numbers to the QB, very good at catching through contact, good at turning to get up field after the catch, and has a solid catch radius. To create separation, he is very good at boxing out his defender and good at sitting down, pulling away, and making quick/precise cuts. The route tree he ran from the backfield is swing, check/chip and release, screen, flat, in and out. The route tree he ran from the out wide position was in, out, flat and angle. As a blocker, he wants to block, is very good at IDing his target, very good at chipping, good at cut blocking and keeps his head up. For overall ball security, he keeps the ball high and tight, away from contact, and keeps 2 hands on it through traffic.


Cons:

Worst: Long speed, Blocking technique, Catching in open space Athletically, he has adequate long speed and needs to add some weight to his frame. Mentally, he does not create blocks with his vision and doesn’t strive to block downfield when he doesn’t have the ball. When getting through the hole, he will stop his feet vs some LBs on outside plays and is adequate at forcing defenders to change their pursuit angles. When creating space or forcing defenders to miss, he is adequate at finishing with speed and doesn’t really burn defenders. As a receiver, he doesn’t consistently hand catch and will body catch when the ball is placed on his chest, in traffic or through contact. He doesn’t set up his cuts with head fakes and doesn’t push off effectively to create separation. As a pass protector, he has adequate technique and adequate anchor. A flaw in his ball security/running style is he sometimes runs high and doesn’t consistently run behind his pads.


Conclusion:

He’s going to put in work for you in all phases of the game but, probably won’t flash crazy athleticism or make huge plays. He’s going to get you what you need play in play out. Mid day 3 talent that is mostly a finished product and can have immediate (albeit small) use with ST upside. Combine scores are above what I expected which causes me to infer that he is athletic enough to make it at the next level. Will have to add weight to be effective between the tackles. If he slides past the mid 6th, he is a steal and would be a high priority FA if he makes it there.

Projection:

  • 1st Year: Rotational back/STer you can win with in a hybrid scheme
  • 3rd Year: Ideal 3rd down back you can win with in a hybrid scheme
  • Ceiling: Matt Forte
  • Floor: Chris Ivory/Corey Clement
  • Reasoning: He has elite short area quickness and is very useful/experienced in the passing game as he has taken snaps on a variety of snaps in the slot. He moves smoothy through 1st-2nd-3rd gear but, lacks the overdrive gear to hit home runs but, he will leave you grasping at air in a phone booth.




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