Eddie Jackson Wasn't Named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, But He Did Enter Elite Company in 2018

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Eddie Jackson Wasn’t Named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, But He Did Enter Elite Company in 2018

Chicago Bears

Aaron Donald earned the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight season as he racked up a league-best 20.5 sacks, a whopping NFL-leading 25 tackles-for-loss, and earned a 95.2 grade from Pro Football Focus that ranked as the best given to any defensive player by the site in 2018.

But would you have guessed that Eddie Jackson’s 93.2 grade was the second best grade that was given out by PFF this past season? Maybe not. And if you did, the most hearty kudos are in store for you because Jackson – by that metric – was football’s second best defensive player. If you could envision a second-year leap from a potential building block of a championship roster, I would imagine Jackson’s 2018 is the photo you would want to put in the frame.

Jackson came away with six interceptions, two pick-sixes, two forced fumbles, a touchdown off a fumble recovery, and even came away with his first career NFL sack in what was a breakout campaign for the Alabama product. On top of all that statistical goodness, PFF chose Jackson as the site’s top coverage defender. PFF’s Mark Chichester wrote: “Simply put, Jackson’s body of work across his 589 coverage snaps this year has been some of the best that we’ve ever seen from a safety.”

The advanced metrics seem to match the eye test here. Jackson’s 94.7 coverage grade was the best among all defensive players and tied for the best for a safety in the PFF era. He allowed just 24 receptions and 256 yards while coming away with more interceptions (6) than touchdowns allowed (3). Jackson’s 54.5 percent catch rate and 54.9 passer rating allowed were the third best, while he also tacked on eight pass breakups and was able to get his hands on 31.8 percent of the passes thrown in his direction when he was the target in primary coverage.

Khalil Mack gets the headlines and does a lot of the things to help open up opportunities for defensive backs in the secondary. But it’s Jackson’s playmaking skills that brings it all together on the back end.

Considering all the talented defensive backs who were in the mix to earn such a prestigious honor, it’s pretty neat to see Jackson get his because he stood out above the rest. The Bears missed Jackson’s presence in the postseason. But if he keeps up this level of play, his time to shine in the playoffs will come soon.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.