In the fifth round, there are very few players selected who will make an immediate impact on the team that picks them. In fact, there are going to be more players who won’t play a meaningful down of pro football than those who turn into starters. But for a player like Michael Jackson, on a team stocked up on cornerback talent like the Dallas Cowboys, he could find himself somewhere in between.
The Cowboys had no shortage of young, talented CBs when they selected Jackson 158th overall. Byron Jones is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2018 and third year player Chidobe Awuzie is a solid starter across from Jones. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown are capable backups with the ability to play both inside and outside and would likely start on other teams. With four starting caliber CBs on the roster, it’ll be an uphill battle for MJ to find a role on the defense. Most likely, he’ll be used in relief of the outside starters and could replace someone like Awuzie when his contract ends.
The one thing that Jackson brings to this talented Dallas secondary is size. MJ is the only one of those aforementioned players who is over 6 feet tall. At 6’1” and 200 pounds, Jackson stands a better chance of dealing with the NFL’s biggest receivers than the sub-6 foot Awuzie and Brown. Depending on how quickly he picks up the playbook, Jackson could find himself utilized as a matchup defender, playing in short yardage or red zone situations against bigger receivers on the field. Jackson proved himself as a great jump-ball defender at Miami and when tested in 2017, showed his ball skills with 4 takeaways.
Jackson could also be used in a way that the Cowboys’ 2017 6th round pick, Xavier Woods, was. A safety from Louisiana Tech, Dallas moved him around their defense and had him fit into both safety roles and at CB. Jackson should see work not only as a boundary corner but as a nickel against big nickel receivers and possibly even a SS, considering his strength as a run support DB. While it goes without saying, Jackson will certainly have a big role on special teams and could find more playing time on defense if he becomes a premier ST gunner.