The 2017 Chicago Bears draft class was lambasted from all sides by most experts. Not only were there just five picks in total, three of them came from Division II programs. Adam Shaheen came out of Ashland, Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T and Jordan Morgan from Kutztown. Conventional draft wisdom says that’s a recipe for disaster. Time may be proving that false. Especially when it comes to rookie safety Eddie Jackson.
He comes from by far the most prestigious program in college football at Alabama. That meant he was well-schooled, well-coached and intelligent. All trademarks of Nick Saban players. However Jackson may be a special case. Saban himself even said that the young safety was one of his favorite players to ever coach.
Considering the superstars he’s developed over the years, that’s saying a lot. At the same time Jackson fell to the fourth round before Chicago moved up to get him. So how good could he actually be? According to long-time NFL expert Peter King of Sports Illustrated, much better than people realize.
Rookie safety Eddie Jackson embodies the modern NFL safety
King believes the Bears can surprise a lot of people in 2017. It depends on their defense though. Their front seven may be among the best in the NFC if it can stay healthy. He also like the possibilities with their retooled secondary and it was his singling out of Jackson as a possible catalyst that drew some pleasant surprise.
“GM Ryan Pace spent ample resources in the offseason to prepare for that possibility, adding CBs Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper and safety Quintin Demps via free agency. Chicago also drafted safety Eddie Jackson in Round 4. He was Demps’s partner on the first-team defense throughout the afternoon Monday, flanked by Amukamara and Cooper on the outside; Crevon LeBlanc handled slot duties.
Save for Jackson, that’s a group with experience. And Jackson may be the most exciting of them all—had he not broken his leg last October at Alabama, he had Round 1 or 2 potential. He chalked up one of Monday’s biggest blows, driving down on a crossing route to Cameron Meredith and unloading on Chicago’s wide receiver. (Meredith, it should be noted, somehow held onto the ball.)”
Jackson has steadily risen up the depth chart since training camp started. Coaches are impressed with his knowledge of the game, along with his range and instinct on the field. The statement that he could’ve been a first round pick isn’t made without reason. Jackson was a star in 2015, grabbing six interceptions and returning three for touchdowns. A number of teammates claim his loss last year was a big reason they failed to repeat as national champions.
Starting job is his for taking
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but all signs indicate that the starting safety job is his to lose. He played well in the preseason opener, making a couple of notable plays. It may sound a bit over the top to say that GM Ryan Pace got a first round talent in the fourth round. Otherwise known as a steal.
— InsideBamaRecruiting (@RTRnews) August 11, 2017
Then again he got Jordan Howard, a Pro Bowler, in the fifth round. So maybe it’s not wise to dismiss what King is stating out of hand. He’s been around football for decades. When he says a certain player had first or second round value, he means it. If that’s the case, the Chicago has every reason to be excited.