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Name To Know: Joe Jackson Enters Year 2


(Editor's Note: With training camp finally beginning, there are countless names that will shape the way this Cowboys season plays out. On a team with this much star power, some of those names are better known than others. This series seeks to identify some of the unheralded members of the Cowboys' roster, highlighting how they might make the team and have an impact on the 2020 season.)

  • Who Is He? DE Joe Jackson
  • How Did He Get Here? After a three-year career at Miami, Jackson was drafted by Dallas in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft – just seven spots after the Cowboys drafted his Hurricane teammate, Michael Jackson Jr.

From there, Jackson enjoyed a strong enough preseason to make the active roster as a Day 3 draft pick. Thanks to the two-game suspension of Robert Quinn at the outset of the season, he even had an early role, playing 36 snaps in the first two weeks.

Upon Quinn's return, Jackson's participation dipped. He was a healthy inactive for the final nine games of the season, and he finished the year with just five tackles on 72 total defensive snaps.

Heading into his second season with a new coaching staff presents a fresh opportunity for the 23-year-old.

  • Career Highlight: There aren't going to be a lot of options for a guy with five career tackles, but Jackson enjoyed some moderate success in the first month of the season. In the Week 3 win against Miami, he played 12 defensive snaps and managed a tackle while also batting down a pass from Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen.
  • How Does He Make It: As always for a young and unheralded player, it's going to depend on how well he plays and how many roster spots are available. The Cowboys kept six defensive ends on their preliminary 53-man roster last September, and it's a decent bet the number will be similar this year. At least three of those spots will be accounted for by DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Aldon Smith.

That leaves just a few spots available, and Jackson will be right in the mix for one of them. He was already good enough to crack the active roster as a rookie last year, so hopefully that experience will give him a leg up in his second go-around.

  • How He Can Help: Even for an NFL defensive end, Jackson is a big guy. At 6-4, 275 pounds with 34-inch arms, he's one of the biggest and longest pass rushers on the roster. He averaged 7.5 sacks per season during his college career, so he has demonstrated an ability to get to the quarterback – even if he doesn't possess the elite athleticism of a top-tier draft pick.

Ideally, if he makes the team, Jackson can develop into a regular member of the rotation behind the Cowboys' starters, who can contribute to the pass rush without giving up much in the run game.

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