Throughout his rookie season, Drake Jackson has consistently flashed his plus athletic traits, highlighting why the 49ers were so ecstatic about landing him in the back end of the second round in April’s draft.
Jackson has the bend and technical expertise to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks as a pass rusher. Still, the area where he has disrupted them the most thus far has been his ability to wreck passing plays before the ball is able to bypass the line of scrimmage.
Through 13 weeks of the NFL season, Jackson has the second most batted balls among all edge rushers league-wide. What makes it even more impressive is Jackson is doing it with considerably less volume, recording fewer pass-rushing snaps than any of the other players who rank in the top five.
Jackson’s motor and determination to get his hands up in the passing lane have been consistent week after week, and it has had a significant impact on the 49ers' success as of late, with Jackson recording a batted ball in three of the last four games.
The most recent batted ball on Jackson’s resume came late in the fourth quarter of the 49ers' victory over the first-place Dolphins, with Miami down a score and driving deep into 49ers territory with a chance to take the lead.
On 3rd & 2 from the 49ers' 36-yard line, Jackson tapped into his clutch gene and manifested a pass breakup that put the Dolphins on the ropes by forcing a fourth down that Miami would ultimately fail to pick up.
Another week, another ball batted down at the line of scrimmage by Drake Jackson pic.twitter.com/Crgxv4OXuB— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) December 6, 2022
Jackson possesses some of the best ball skills I have ever seen from an edge rusher, and his knack for always finding a way to get his hands up in a throwing lane has proven time and time again to be an invaluable asset for this 49ers defense.
Here are a couple more of Jackson’s batted balls from this season:
Week 11 vs. Cardinals
Another week, another pass deflected by Drake Jackson— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) November 22, 2022
Jackson has some of the best ball skills I have ever seen from an edge rusher.
Instincts are off the charts, always seems to make an effort to get his hands up in the passing lane pic.twitter.com/BwtC1KdzSM
Week 10 vs. Chargers
Drake Jackson with his third batted ball of the season— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) November 15, 2022
That’s tied for 3rd most in the NFL this season
One thing that is consistent with Jackson on film, he’s always making an effort to get his hands up in the throwing lane
Dude has tremendous instincts pic.twitter.com/7sZtQzBMtJ
Jackson’s ceiling as a pass rusher is still far from clear. Still, one thing we absolutely have clarity on now is the floor is immediately raised due to the tremendous instincts he possesses when it comes to blocking passes like he is the second coming of Dikembe Mutombo.