49ers Pick No. 61: EDGE Drake Jackson, USC
Given the 49ers’ defensive philosophy of wanting to rush only four players and use the remaining seven in coverage, it shouldn’t be a surprise they used yet another early resource to bolster it.
Dee Ford is practically done as a player and is only on the roster due to salary considerations, and Kerry Hyder is only a one-year stopgap at the position opposite Nick Bosa.
Drake Jackson is a fine pick at the end of the second round as he fits both the range and need, and he certainly has the potential to be elite down the road. He will require some development to fill out his frame and improve his run defense, so Jackson isn’t likely to start this upcoming season and instead might be used more as a third-down specialist.
Jackson had five sacks and eight tackles for loss this season to go with an interception and a forced fumble in 2021. He never took the next step as far as production goes, but the physical gifts are apparent.
Notably, he’s very fast for his 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame, and his athleticism allows him to beat defenders both inside and outside. He’s a bit reliant on this athleticism, however, and doesn’t have the array of moves Bosa had coming into the NFL.
But that’s alright because Jackson can learn those things being in the same team as Bosa. The rookie will need to get a bit stronger, too, but a year in an NFL weight program will sort that out. The important thing is he has the room to fill out his frame a little more without sacrificing speed, which will help him be a three-down player.
The 49ers will need to be a bit patient, but they got their draft off to an excellent start. If Jackson develops, we’ll be looking at this as a massive steal.