Many were wondering why the Chicago Bears hadn’t addressed any secondary needs through two days of the 2017 NFL Draft. After a trade up of five slots with the Los Angeles Rams, the team finally nabbed a potential impact player with some upside in Alabama safety Eddie Jackson.
In said trade, Chicago gave up the No. 117 overall pick in the fourth round and No. 197 overall pick in the sixth round, to slide up to No. 112 and grab Jackson. A potentially costly move, but no doubt a player the organization appreciates enough to go and snatch since he was sitting there.
Jackson’s injury history of a broken leg and more scares me, but if that bad fortune is behind him, the Bears might have finally found a worthwhile safety prospect to trust.
Of note: the Bears have now drafted a safety in 10 of the last 11 years. The highest they’ve taken one in the same time span is Danieal Manning in the second round of the 2006 draft.
Let’s grade Chicago’s trade up to No. 112 overall in the fourth round to nab Jackson.
Many had Jackson as a late first to early second-round talent, so this is a quality aggressive move by general manager Ryan Pace to slot up and take a guy who can contribute if he can stay healthy. Some do have concern as to whether the Alabama front seven enhanced some of his play, and that could be true, but that’d wholly discount what Jackson brings to the table as a lightning quick player with ball hawk skills.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jackson due to an injury history that includes said broken leg last year and a torn ACL in 2014, but he’s recovered well each time. He’s expected to be ready for Bears’ offseason workouts, so it appears he’s checked through the medical filters in Chicago.
No one will mistake Jackson for an Ed Reed-type center fielder, but he does have excellent instincts and range for what you’d expect of a player of his pedigree. Jackson is a guy is you can play all over the field in covering tight ends and slot receivers, depending on match-ups of course. He also started his career with Alabama as a cornerback, so he’s fluid enough to move around as you see fit in his use if you’re his defensive coordinator. Another Pace multi-use defensive weapon.
What the Bears clearly appreciated about Jackson’s ability, is that he can return punts and kicks as well. Last season, he returned two punts for touchdowns, and also had three defensive scores in the last two years. When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a threat to make something happen each time.
Concerning aspects of Jackson as a player is that he isn’t the best tackler and that a lanky thin frame at 6-foot, 201 pounds could leave him susceptible to more punishment and another potentially disastrous injury. And some of that coverage talent he has, really was occasionally enhanced by the monstrous guys up front. Every secondary player needs a solid pass rush, but there is reasonable belief that Jackson had his resume exacerbated because of Alabama’s tremendous defensive talent.
Overall, I would think Jackson is in line to start Week 1 of the 2017 season next to veteran Quintin Demps, but he has a lot to work on the NFL level as a complete safety and has a lot to prove as a player who can get by on his own accord defensively. The trade-up to select him by the Bears and subsequently take advantage of value is a move I’ll applaud to an extent, though.
Now it’s your turn to grade the Bears’ trade up to No. 112 overall in the fourth round to select Alabama safety Eddie Jackson.
Grade the Bears’ trade up to select Eddie Jackson at No. 112 overall.
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Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.