2021 NFL Draft: Deon Jackson Profile

Deon Jackson NFL Draft Overview

Position: Running Back
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 220 lbs.
School: Duke University

2021 NFL Draft: Deon Jackson Player Profile

Deon Jackson of Duke University will likely turn some heads going into the 2021 NFL Draft. He was a multi-year starter at Duke, where he produced throughout nearly his entire career. His durability leads the way, only having missed one game out of the possible 48 in his college career. In 2019 and 2020, Jackson started every game for Duke in the backfield.

He is a big, fast running back with notable one-cut running ability. This is evidenced in his average yards per carry his senior year, when he averaged over four years a clip. In the passing game, Jackson contributed sparingly, yet effectively. He averaged eight or more yards per reception in each of his last three seasons with the Blue Devils. Even though Jackson has played nearly every game in his career, he never crossed 200 rushing attempts in a season. As such, his health and durability are major advantages over his fellow rookie running backs heading into this year’s draft. Detrimental to Jackson, though, is his ball security— or lack thereof. In 2020 alone, Jackson fumbled five times in 11 games.

Deon Jackson’s Pro Day

Deon Jackson’s pro day will likely turn some heads regardless of ball security issues. Weighing in at 218 pounds for the day, Jackson went on to run a blazing 4.32-second 40-yard dash. Other between-the-tackles backs ran significantly slower in the 40-yard dash, helping to improve Jackson’s stock. His top-end speed will likely inspire NFL franchises to take a chance on the Duke alumnus late in the 2021 NFL Draft. Jackson scored well in the broad jump and vertical as well, earning comparisons to more highly regarded backs like Javonte Williams.

Another factor contributing to Jackson’s draft stock is his ability and willingness to contribute on special teams. While he did not return kickoffs often, the skill is still within his repertoire. Jackson’s combination of speed and size could be a significant and exciting weapon for a special teams coordinator. Teams needing to fill out their roster with players with a somewhat fluid position will likely appreciate the metrics, experience, and durability Jackson brings to the table.


  • Powerful runner;
  • Surprisingly effective vision;
  • Surprising top-end speed for a bigger back;
  • Reads blocks well;
  • Not afraid to block in pass protection.


  • Limited when trying to turn the corner at speed;
  • Inexperienced as a receiver;
  • Ineffectual lateral quickness;
  • Tends to get caught in scrum at line of scrimmage
  • Insecure protecting the football.

NFL Comparison: Joshua Kelley

Teams With Need At Position: Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets

Projection: Sixth-to-Seventh Round, Possible U.D.F.A.

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Last Word on Deon Jackson

Deon Jackson brings the good and the bad to the NFL draft process.

The good comes in his metrics, experience, and relatively fresh legs. Jackson comes with blazing top-end speed in a 220-pound frame. His experience shines brightly alongside his durability. Jackson missed a single game in his entire collegiate career due to injury. Wear and tear on Jackson’s body will not prove a concern for NFL teams, as Jackson has not accrued over 172 touches in any season of his four-year collegiate career.

The bad comes in the form of Jackson’s limited vertical running, lack of receiving experience, and his fumbling issues. If Jackson is only asked to serve as a one-cut runner, this alleviates the concern over his vertical running. Unfortunately, the fumbling issues will likely prove a major caveat for interested teams. If an NFL franchise believes they can coach this issue out of Jackson, he would likely hear his name called on day three of the NFL draft.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images