Bears fans know that they have traditionally been built on defense. They tend to heavily favor defenders in their drafts. But in the 2017 NFL Draft, they selected just one defensive player, Eddie Jackson, a safety from Alabama. Who is he and how can he help the Bears?
The Chicago Bears had one defensive player selected in their entire draft. Granted, they only had five picks, but they chose to beef up their offense. This has frustrated some Bears fans who feel that the Bears could have done more to add to the defense which needs help. Especially in the secondary.
With so much secondary depth in this draft, the Bears went with one lone safety.
So who is Eddie Jackson? What can he bring to the Bears? Here is a brief look at Jackson and what he can bring to the Bears now that he is part of this storied franchise.
Jackson was a senior at the University of Alabama last season and could have skipped his final year. His decision to return may have backfired a bit though. He ended up breaking his leg in the Crimson Tide’s eighth game of the season. His draft stock dropped as a result. There will be more on his medical issues later.
Some of the upside that Jackson brings to the table is athleticism. He is a fine athlete who can do a lot at the safety position. Jackson can get to the play quickly, make it and can help clean up. He can help get his teammates into the proper position and does exhibit some leadership.
He has good instincts for the position and can cover tight ends and receivers. Something that may have been appealing to the Bears was his ability to return punts. Jackson has had a lot of success returning them having two punt returns for touchdowns last year. Special teams may be his starting point.
According to Pro Football Focus his drawbacks include:
"Poor tackler, often out of control or goes too high on players and does not have the strength to bring them down with bad technique. Has missed 16 of 122 attempts over the last three years."
"Shy hitter; doesn’t seem to want to stick his nose in on a hit unless he has to."
"Slight frame and will be pushed around and sealed off in the box; seems to be just a FS fit who can occasionally play man against lesser options."
"Doesn’t seem to read QB when in deep zone, will wait for receiver to make his break instead of reading the QB at the top of his dropback."
"Instincts at safety need work; clearly still adapting to playing in space, and needs to improve his angles. Chicago Bears Bear Goggles On 0d - Chicago Bears NFL Combine Preview: Quarterback More headlines around FanSided: 0d - 7 best free agent tackle options for Chicago Bears 0d - Is Jakobi Meyers the perfect free agent WR for Chicago Bears? 1d - Could the Chicago Bears look to trade for this Bronco instead? 1d - What Chicago Bears could expect in trade down with Indianapolis Colts 1d - 3 stats to know about Chicago Bears potential pick Jalen Carter More News at Bear Goggles On"
Medical issues could be big for Jackson. As previously stated, he broke his leg late in the season last year. He does have a rod in his leg to help stabilize the injury. In 2014, he suffered a torn ACL. Two leg injuries can be a little scary and Bears fans hope that he doesn’t have any other injury issues to hamper his development or ability to play. With Kevin White still struggling with leg issues (he had a rod in his leg too), hopes are that another player with leg issues that could end his career early was not brought onto the team last week.
Jackson comes into the NFL with some honors from his career at Alabama. During his junior season, he was named a first-team All-SEC safety as well as a third-team AP All-American.
Chicago’s issues on special teams are well known, and if Jackson can help them improve there, then he will be well worth the pickup. At least in that aspect.
But, the Bears need him to help on defense as well. Going into this draft, they needed help at the safety position, so hopefully, Jackson will be able to provide that for them.
Jackson didn’t start as a safety at Alabama. Instead, he began his career there as a cornerback. So he does have pass coverage experience. That will help.
Safety is a needy position for the Bears and getting Jackson will help shore it up but will it stabilize it? And can he crack the starting lineup? That’s what Bears fans and coaches want to know.
The safety position is better than it was at the end of the 2016 season but Chicago hasn’t done as much as they could have to get that position shored up for the long term. Even with Jackson on board, it remains a position of need.
Jackson should be able to contribute to the Bears right away on special teams. He should be able to return punts, at least, and help them improve their field position. Field position and punt return average is something the Bears struggled with last season.
Hopefully, Jackson can stay healthy and contribute at least on special teams to start. If he can regain some of that “magic” he had during his junior year, then the Bears may have found a real gem. In fact, he may just be a real “steal.” Let’s hope he works out well for Chicago and can become a long-term fixture in the secondary.