Round 4: S Eddie Jackson, Alabama (6’0 | 194 | 4.53)
If Jackson hadn’t broken his leg late in the 2016 season, there is little to no chance he’d be available this late in the draft. His broken leg will probably keep him out of the post-season all-star games and NFL combine, which will drop his draft stock considerably unless he recovers in time to workout for teams.
Jackson, one of the leaders of Bama’s national championship defense in 2015, would probably be a 2nd round pick if he had stayed healthy the last two seasons. In his junior season, Jackson had six interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. In his shortened senior year, he had one pick which he returned for a TD and also had two punt return touchdowns.
Jackson has proven to be an explosive playmaker at safety with impressive ball skills and elite return skills. The former cornerback could be a starting free safety at the next level, but he will have to prove that he’s fully recovered from both his broken leg this year and an ACL tear as a sophomore.
The multiple serious injuries will be a concern for NFL teams, but Jackson has proven to be an impact player when on the field. His best traits are as a pass defender, but in just a little over a season and a half as a safety, Jackson has shown the ability to take the proper angles to the football and tackle with sound technique.
Jackson will need to get stronger to become a reliable tackler as the last line of defense, but the technique is there for him to become a reliable run stopper as well as an impact pass defender. If Jackson can prove he’s 100% before the draft, then he won’t be available this late but if he is… it could be a steal for the Bears.
The Bears may have the least amount of safety talent in the league. They could/should add at least one solid free agent at the position, but even if they do then Jackson would be an ideal pairing with a veteran. He has the leadership, ball-skills, and awareness to a fixture at safety for the Bears for a long time.
*Also considered: CB Damontrae Kazee, San Diego St; OT Taylor Moton, WMU; TE Jake Butt, Michigan; CB Channing Stripling, Michigan; WR Carlos Henderson, LA Tech; OLB Devonte Fields, Louisville