Position: Defensive End
Height/weight: 6'3', 247 lbs.
In the wake of DeMarcus Ware's departure, the Cowboys signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain. These are the first steps to shore up the defensive line in the post-Ware and likely post-Hatcher era, and could be a sign that defensive line may not be the direction they're planning to go with the first round pick in the draft. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is a pass rusher that will most likely be chosen in the second or third round, should Dallas choose to seek help in the secondary (i.e. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) in the first round.
Jeffcoat is a local guy -- he calls Plano, Tex. his home and attended high school about five miles from the location of the Cowboys' future Frisco practice facility. Jeffcoat played at the University of Texas and is the son of 15-year NFL veteran Jim Jeffcoat, who recorded 94.5 sacks in 12 seasons as a Dallas Cowboy. Before becoming a Longhorn, the younger Jeffcoat was ESPNU's no.1 prospect in the nation out of high school. He earned a starting role as a sophomore at Texas and earned second team All-Big 12 honors. Jeffcoat missed the second half of his junior season with a pectoral injury, but responded with an impressive senior year, tallying 86 tackles (22 for loss) and 13 sacks on his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end.
Why he's a good fit for the Cowboys
Cowboys fans can hope that the signing of Jeremy Mincey isn't all the team is planning to do to replace Ware. The need for a pass-rusher is still there, and Jeffcoat certainly is one (remember the aforementioned 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in his senior campaign). Much like Kony Ealy, the subject of the last Draft Focus, Jeffcoat has experience all over the front seven. He can play as a traditional down lineman and pass rush from the edge, or attack different points of the line as stand-up end or even as a spy linebacker. Jeffcoat saw a lot of action as a spy linebacker in the Longhorns' 2013 game against Texas Tech and scrambling quarterback Baker Mayfield:
Rod Marinelli defenses are known for their ability to create turnovers. A multifaceted pass rusher like Jeffcoat with a pedigree of playmaking ability in the backfield would be an asset for a turnover-focused group.
'Jeffcoat has that burst off the edge that you want in a pass rusher in this pass-happy NFL where pass rushers are needed,' ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper said, according to Horns Illustrated.
Jeffcoat is the lightest defensive end in the draft pool at 247 lbs, and would be considered by pessimists as a 'tweener' defensive end, but by optimists as the versatile 'hybrid pass rusher.' CBS Sports list his size and tendency to be handled by offensive linemen and get blocked out of plays as weaknesses. But while he is a hair shorter than his counterparts, Jeffcoat showed his athleticism at the scouting combine. His numbers, in fact, are comparable to DeMarcus Ware's numbers in 2005. Ware measured at 6-foot-4, 251 lbs. Jeffcoat is listed at 6-foot-5 on his Texas Athletics page and on ESPN.com, but we'll call him shorter than Ware since he measured at 6-foot-3 officially at the combine.
Ware: 40-yd dash 4.56 sec, Bench 27 reps, Vertical 38.5 in, Broad jump 10'02''
Jeffcoat: 40-yd dash 4.63 sec, Bench 18 reps, Vertical 36 in, Broad jump 10'03''
Ware showed more strength coming out of college, and slightly quicker times. But Jeffcoat's running and jumping numbers convey speed and explosiveness. He ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash amongst defensive ends at this year's combine. This isn't to say I think Jackson Jeffcoat will be the next DeMarcus Ware in Dallas, but he's got the athleticism to fit that mold. And the 'Boys won't need to draft him 11th overall like they did with Ware.
The Texas product is an athletic pass rusher with success at the NFL level in his gene pool. Jeffcoat likely won't be the highest-rated defensive end prospect on the board when the Cowboys' second round pick comes around. If he falls to Dallas' third round selection, he would be a valuable pick in that spot. Depending on what is happening with field of defensive ends in the first couple rounds, Jeffcoat may be worth a second round investment for his athleticism and playmaking ability.