With that as a backdrop, Packer Report will run a series of profiles on this year's outside linebackers. We start today with ...
Agility tests: 4.63 in the 40-yard dash (fourth-best time among all defensive linemen at the Scouting Combine…1.63 10-yard dash…2.72 20-yard dash…6.97 20-yard shuttle (his performance in this test was second-best for linemen at the Combine)…36-inch vertical jump…10'-3" broad jump (jump was fourth-best for defensive linemen at the 2014 combine)…Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times…33 7/8-inch arm length…9 5/8-inch hands…80 3/4-inch wingspan.
Injury report: 2010: Suffered a severely sprained ankle that forced him to miss four games. 2012: Suffered a season ending torn right pectoral muscle in the sixth game of the year vs. Oklahoma. He had successful surgery to repair the injury on Oct. 19.
Number to note: Jeffcoat was one of five players in the major college ranks to average at least one sack per game in 2013, as he is joined by Marcus Smith of Louisville (14.5 in 13 games), Trent Murphy of Stanford (15.0 in 14 games), Vic Beasley of Clemson (13.0 in 13 games) and Hau'Oli Kikala of Washington (13.0 in 13 games).
Jeffcoat has the blood lines, the athleticism, the production and the drive to be a star.
Jeffcoat's father, Jim Jeffcoat, rang up 102.5 sacks in 12 seasons with Dallas and three seasons with Buffalo. He registered at least 10 sacks on five occasions.
Jackson Jeffcoat learned well. Refusing to ride on his father's coattails, Jeffcoat had 27.5 sacks and 60 tackles for losses in 40 career games at Texas. He finished his career in dynamic fashion, earning consensus All-American honors and winning the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end with 13 sacks and 22 tackles for losses as a senior.
It was just the season he needed after missing large chunks of 2010 and 2012 with injuries.
"It was very important to overcome that this year, because teams wanted to see me healthy," Jeffcoat said at the Scouting Combine. "People said, ‘You played well but we haven't seen you play a whole season.' So it was important to stay healthy, play a full season and show teams that I'm capable of staying healthy. As you'll see with a full season, I got 13 sacks, 22 tackles for lost yardage and led the team in tackles with 86. I have numbers out there. My goal is to make it into the NFL and do the same thing in the NFL."
The NFL has been Jeffcoat's goal for as long as he can remember. His father, however, didn't push him in that direction. Rather, Jim Jeffcoat tried to keep his son on the sideline for as long as possible.
"He didn't want all that banging and pounding on my body, that football was something I could pick up later," Jackson said. "He wanted me to pick up my movement from basketball, soccer and baseball at a young age."
Finally, when Jackson was in sixth grade, his father relented to his son's pleading and let him play football. Even then, Jim — a former NFL assistant coach who just completed his first season as an assistant at Colorado — stayed in the football shadows as much as possible.
"He started teaching me a little stuff in high school," Jackson said. "I started playing in sixth grade. I had to beg him to let me play because he didn't want me to play until high school. I really had to come to him to ask him. ‘Hey, will you teach me this? I'm having trouble with this guy doing this to me. Will you teach me that?'"
Jackson soaked in that knowledge, going from high school All-American and one of the hottest recruits in the nation, to collegiate All-American and one of top prospects in this year's draft.
He was one of five players in the nation to average at least one sack per game in 2013.
"I can give you speed and I can surprise guys with some power," Jeffcoat said. "I have strength in my lower body and arms. I can get underneath a guy and use my leverage. I feel like I'm a guy that would be a positive influence in the locker room because I get along with guys well. So there won't be any problems with that or off-the-field problems."
Not just a one-trick pony, Jeffcoat was the only defensive lineman in the nation to lead his team in tackles.
"It's hustle. I had to hustle and make plays," Jeffcoat said. "Just try to run to the ball, get to the ball. That's an important thing my dad talked to me about and my coaches would tell me. ‘Hey, you need to get to the ball. You need to make sure you play with effort every play.'"
Jeffcoat worked as an outside linebacker (for 3-4 teams) and defensive end (for 4-3 teams) at the Scouting Combine and at this week's pro day. To get ready for a possible transition to outside linebacker, he's been working on his drops and coverage skills with Carlos Woods, a former assistant with the Bengals and Colts, while working out at Ignition Athletic Performance Group.
"I feel like I was comfortable with it because I did drop a fair amount at Texas," Jeffcoat said of dropping in coverage.
His name might be Jackson Jeffcoat, but he's spent much of his life known as "Jim Jeffcoat's son."
Now, he's ready to make his own name.
"I want to make my name as Jackson Jeffcoat," he told Packer Report after his media session. "I've always been Jim Jeffcoat's son. The funny thing he'll tell you is he's known as Jackson Jeffcoat's dad. He says that all the time. That's what I'm trying to make happen, and I think he'd like that, too."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.