DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The Cowboys are desperate to find the next DeMarcus Ware.
They won’t find him in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But what they will find is a player with many of the same traits as DeMarcus Ware, and they don’t have to go far to find him.
He happens to be a Cowboys legacy, who grew up in Plano and was named the best defensive end in college football last fall.
Texas Longhorn Jackson Jeffcoat is the son of former Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat. He had more sacks his senior year at Texas than all but one other draft prospect this year.
Jeffcoat’s career numbers at Texas are eerily similar to those of DeMarcus Ware a decade ago at Troy.
In fact, they are almost identical:
Ware was the 11th overall selection of the Cowboys in the first round of the 2005 draft. He exhibited athleticism for an edge rusher at the Scouting Combine that has rarely been seen.
Jeffcoat surprised many draft analysts with his athleticism at this year’s combine:
Aside from the bench press, Jeffcoat’s not that far off Ware’s measureables. Having dealt with pectoral injuries in college, you couldn’t blame Jeffcoat if he didn’t want to press his luck, so to speak, when he lifted at the combine.
Watching his tape, he doesn’t appear to lack strength. He is able to set the edge and converts speed to power when rushing the passer.
But enough on how Jeffcoat compares to a future Hall of Famer. How does he stack up with the other edge rushers in this year’s draft?
As a matter of fact, very favorably.
In terms of productivity, when you compare the two best college seasons of the top 40 edge rushers (DE’s and OLB’s) in this draft, no player has more tackles for loss and sacks per game than Jeffcoat’s 2.46/1 ratio.
When it comes to athleticism, only Buffalo’s Kahlil Mack, a projected top 5 pick, scored higher than Jeffcoat when you rank all the edge rusher’s Combine and Pro Day measureables:
Combining both 2 year productivity and athleticism, the top 5 edge rusher prospects include Mack, Jeffcoat, and projected 1st round picks Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, and Dee Ford.
Projected 1st round pick Kony Ealy of Missouri ranks 30th (3.33) while 2nd round prospects Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech is 12th (4.52), and Demarcus Lawrence of Boise State is 19th (4.14).
While Jeffcoat’s college and combine numbers compare favorably to all the other prospects in this year’s draft, he’s also top of the charts when it comes to intangibles.
Team Captain and MVP his senior season, Jeffcoat received strength and conditioning and tenacity awards at Texas. He has impeccable character and a work ethic that is second to none. He earned his degree in corporate communications in three and a half years and was heavily involved in community service projects in college.
Jeffcoat’s athleticism shouldn’t come as a surprise. He was a two sport star at Plano West High School. A Parade All American in football, he was also highly recruited as a basketball player. He matched up head to head with projected top 5 NBA draft pick Marcus Smart in a memorable regional championship game in 2010. Jeffcoat scored 22 points, holding Smart to 17, but Flower Mound Marcus beat Plano West, 49-44, advancing to the Class 5A state tournament.
At Texas, Jeffcoat exhibited great toughness and perseverance, fighting through two pectoral tears, to start 33 games in his career. First team All American, Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Hendricks Award winner as a senior, Jeffcoat’s college career closely parallels that of one Demarcus Ware, who also was 1st team All American, Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Hendricks Award winner as a senior at Troy.
In this draft, the Cowboys won’t find a Demarcus Ware, who has 117 career sacks. However, they can have the next best thing to it in Jackson Jeffcoat.
The team faced this same predicament 31 years ago when it needed to find a replacement for defensive end Harvey Martin, who had 114 career sacks.
In the 1st round of the 1983 draft, Dallas selected a 1st team All American from Arizona State named Jim Jeffcoat, who would retire from football 15 years later with 102.5 career sacks and two Super Bowl rings.
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