The San Francisco 49ers have gotten an early glimpse of “The Freak” during this offseason OTA and minicamp period.
Jackson was dubbed by NFL Draft experts as a potential first round talent for his ability to explode off the ball, attack the quarterback and alter opposing blocking schemes/offensive game plans during his USC years. However, in a loaded edge defender class that saw 11 edge/defensive end prospects get selected in the first 60 selections, Jackson fell to the 49ers at No. 61 overall.
But the teams that held a selection during those picks could soon face the wrath of “The Freak” for passing over him. And already, one prominent member of the 49ers coaching staff not only likes what he’s seen so far at minicamp, but believes the “sky’s the limit” for the Trojans star.
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49ers Coordinator Surprised Jackson Fell
Like many inside the 49ers’ building in Santa Clara, plus many who followed the NFL Draft, watching Jackson fall to the latter part of the second round was a surprise.
Especially for the man who will soon install play designs to get Jackson into an attack mode along the 49ers’ defensive trenches: Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
“With Drake, first off, just getting Drake, just happy to have him because we didn’t think he would be there at that spot,” Ryans said to the Bay Area media following the Wednesday, June 8 minicamp session. “So, getting Drake, that was an awesome, awesome pick for us there, and I think he has really great ability. He just has to keep working. He has the ability to get to the quarterback.”
Per David Lombardi of The Athletic, Jackson is already showing that said ability, revealing that the second rounder forced a takeaway that fell into the hands of undrafted free agent safety Leon O’Neal.
‘The Sky’s The Limit’
The 49ers and Jackson are still a long ways away from their first set of live action in the preseason, with the ‘Niners welcoming the Green Bay Packers on August 12 for their first preseason contest.
However, Ryans and the 49ers are already capturing a sample of Jackson’s potential. And with the room Jackson is placed in, Ryans believes he’ll learn so much being inside the defensive lineman room.
“If he keeps working, keeps getting in there with [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek, and learning from [defensive end Nick] Bosa, learning from [defensive end] Arik [Armstead], learning from [defensive end] Samson [Ebukam], just diving in and really detailing out his job, Drake has a chance to be a really good player for us. The sky’s the limit for him,” Ryans said. “He just has to keep working, keep improving daily.”
Ryans isn’t the only 49er raving about what Jackson is capable of.
Defensive end Samson Ebukam, who will soon lineup with Jackson, was one who raved about Jackson’s potential.
“Damn. He’s good,” Ebukam said. “He’s gonna be a key factor in this defense.”
Even the top all-around pass rusher on the 49ers Nick Bosa admitted that Jackson has skillsets he never possessed when he entered the league.
“He’s super talented. He does things out there that I definitely couldn’t do as a rookie, just the way he moves,” Bosa said. “He’s definitely got some impressive stuff about him.”