The Buffalo Bills started off the 2020 NFL Draft on defense with A.J. Epenesa and then took a break from that side of the ball until the very end. With pick 239 in round 7, Buffalo selected cornerback Dane Jackson. The former Panther (Pitt, but still that’s funny) has a long road to supplant Tre’Davious White so let’s check to see if he’s a threat to someone else on the roster.
DISCLAIMER: Corners might be one of the hardest positions to get solid film on as even All-22 angles don’t always keep them in frame. Making things worse, boundary corners are on the extreme ends of the field and, as we can see here, can go out of frame as the camera moves to catch the action. This is my way of letting you know that due to the position and limited film to start with, this particular analysis has a lower degree of confidence.
Disclaimer aside, Dane Jackson’s physical play style still leaped off the screen. Often lined up man-to-man he’s not shy about jamming and getting into a bit of early hand fighting with the receiver.
See what I mean? Dane Jackson immediately locks up with his opponent and refuses to let go, even when trying to run back to the play. Even with limited film and tough camera angles there are still enough snaps where Jackson reroutes his man by being physical.
I tend to shy away from the most egregious examples of things so let me say this no-call doesn’t upset me because I think it’s a bit fringe (though I doubt Virginia fans agree with that take). That said, if it had been called it would have been the third penalty on Dane Jackson in just this one film cut-up. This is another thing I am confident on. During this weird offseason, teams are allowed to send up to $1,500 of equipment/devices to each player. If the Buffalo Bills take advantage of this, I’m betting Dane Jackson’s box has some oven mitts.
For this play I wanted to highlight that Dane Jackson can flip his hips pretty quickly. He tends to do so early like we see here and try to run stride for stride with the receiver. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve done on corners you know how much I love backpedaling. This is especially true in the Frazier/McDermott defense. I’ll give Jackson an incomplete on backpedaling as there weren’t many zone snaps. Many plays resembled what we see here.
Dane Jackson initially tries to lead his receiver to the sideline and yes, he’s beaten with that cut back to the inside. Maybe a backpedal would have helped. Back on track, the change of direction and rush to get back to the ball looked really good.
I saw this often enough that I wanted to point it out. Another positive of the physical play style of Dane Jackson is that he will sometimes drive the opponent out of bounds without them realizing it. I don’t know how well this will translate to the NFL as he’ll be more frequently called for illegal contact if he attempts to get too physical. I am willing to bet he’ll have success in these instance of at least getting the receiver to the sideline where a catch will either be tough or impossible. Receivers being constantly jammed early should end up naturally shying away to run a clean route, which can lead to drifting further than intended.
Here Dane Jackson is going against now teammate Gabriel Davis. Davis routinely abused Jackson’s teammates in this game but wasn’t targeted as often against Jackson from what I saw. On this play Davis wins with a sharper cut than Jackson is able to make, but Jackson rebounds pretty well to limit the gain short of the sticks.
You can see the tenacity of Dane Jackson as his opponent locks him up early to block. Jackson fights to break free and manages to do so before Gabriel Davis runs by for an easy score. This is a lower confidence assessment based on number of observed tackles, but Jackson can be inconsistent when it comes to wrapping up. As you can see though, when he does it’s effective.
Dane Jackson is a curious pick for me. With most of his tape showing press coverage with man-to-man he’s a bit different than what we often see for the Buffalo defense. I’m curious to see if the Bills will have him compete in the slot where backpedaling is not king and contact is more acceptable. The Bills’ front office has shown tremendous aptitude in finding defensive backs and this late in the draft Dane Jackson has some qualities that are a lot of fun to watch. I have faith that the coaching staff will maximize Jackson’s potential.