Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


Why PFF names 49ers rookie Drake Jackson as a day two draft steal

May 2, 2022 at 8:21 AM--


Pro Football Focus looked at the entire 2022 NFL Draft and identified some of the biggest draft steals. The San Francisco 49ers didn't own a first-round pick but did have nine picks starting with No. 61 overall in the second round. With that selection, the Niners added defensive end Drake Jackson out of USC, and the analytics site sees the pick as a great value for the NFC West team.

"San Francisco got a promising developmental pass-rusher with Drake Jackson much later than any team should have," wrote Anthony Treash.


The 49ers hope Jackson can develop into a complemental piece opposite star pass rusher Nick Bosa. The three-year starter for the Trojans racked up 12.5 sacks during his collegiate career. He dealt with a weight drop before the 2021 season due to a battle with COVID-19 but still managed five sacks in his junior year.

"You turn on the film, and he just jumps off the film in terms of his athleticism and talent and length and all the things -- his ability to turn the corner and redirect, all the things we look for and covet in a defensive end," general manager John Lynch said after admitting that the 49ers loved the defender throughout the evaluation process. "Then we brought Drake in and got a real good feel for him as a person. Really worked hard on him and thrilled to be able to land him. Didn't think he'd be at 61, and he came there, and we were happy to grab him and make him a part of the Niners."

While none of his stats jump off the page, the 49ers feel they have a lot of raw talent in Jackson, who could develop into a disruptive force along a defensive line that prides itself on frustrating opposing offensive linemen.

"Jackson may lack a power element and still is raw as a pass-rusher, but there's no denying the USC edge defender's ceiling," wrote Treash. "He has the explosiveness, agility, and flexibility that coaches dream of having on the edge. And the fact that he showed some growth in 2021 should be encouraging."

Pro Football Focus graded Jackson at 88.3 in 2021, a jump from the 66.6 grade he earned in 2020.

"Our R&D, our eyes, all those things, I'd say he's incredibly disruptive," Lynch shared. "He played in a bunch of different schemes, and they moved him around a lot, so we think his best football is in front of him. But things such as quick disruption, something we study a lot, he was tops in the country. We liked the film. We think ... his best stuff is in front of him."



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