The Chicago Bears got a steal in the early picks of Day 3. The Bears traded up; and with the 5th pick of the 4th round, the 112th overall, Chicago selected Eddie Jackson.
Jackson is still coming back from his devastating injury against Texas A&M; and, other than putting up 10 reps on the bench press, he wasn’t able to work out for teams. That said, if healthy, he could’ve been one of the top safeties in the this draft.
Eddie Jackson was one of the most dynamic players on the Crimson Tide the past two years. The defensive captain hauled in seven interceptions, including a team-leading six in 2015. Three of the those seven picks were returned for touchdowns, too. Jackson also scored twice on punt returns, including this one during the comeback against Ole Miss.
The man had a nose for the endzone, and that’s a strength he’ll bring to the NFL. His 303 interception return yards, with nine career picks, are tops in school history.
The former three star athlete was thrown into the fire early on at cornerback as a true freshman, starting four games and acquitting himself well. Jackson tore his ACL in the offseason but did manage to return by Week 2 of 2014. He would start 10 games in that up-and-down season, but it would be his last at corner.
During the offseason, Jackson converted to safety to help replace the departure of Landon Collins. I’ll admit; I was skeptical of the move. Boy, was I wrong.
Jackson was a natural at safety, and it was the perfect move for him. He had those six interceptions, including one during the national championship after baiting Deshaun Watson. He was voted second team All-American for the impressive campaign.
Jackson was named a permanent team captain, and he picked up right where he left off. While he only had one interception in the eight games he played in before his terrible injury, he was a leader, part of the heart and soul, of the defense. One of the moments that sticks in my memory is a play in which he didn’t even touch the ball. When Minkah Fitzpatrick picked off Arkansas’ Austin Allen in the endzone, Jackson was right there; and he immediately turned and pointed out the path for Fitzpatrick, waving him on and eventually throwing the final, crucial block.
He wanted his teammate to get that touchdown.
If you haven’t read his article for the Players’ Tribune from December, read it.
Jackson will bring that same selflessness to the NFL. He’ll be a great locker room presence. He’ll, of course, play safety; but with his experience at cornerback, he could slide down as the nickel if needed.
Chicago, while ranking 7th in pass defense last year, hauled in a franchise-record low eight interceptions; and Jackson’s ballhawking skills can provide an immediate boost there. The Bears needed a playmaker in the secondary, and Eddie Jackson is that.
Jackson also brings his dynamic punt return skills. The Bears still have Eddie Royal - 19 returns, 166 yards (8.7yds/return), and 1 TD - but Jackson vision should, at the very least, give Royal some stiff competition.