First Round Dreams

Jackson Jeffcoat

If it were as simple as ones production in college translating into where that player would be selected in the NFL Draft, Jackson Jeffcoat would be the top defensive end selected tonight.

He was, after all, the recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award in 2013, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive end.

That's just one of the many honors the former five-star recruit garnered after his senior season at Texas. In fact, Cedric Reed, who played at the other DE position for the Longhorns, half-heartedly joked that every time he got on Twitter Jeffcoat was winning another award.

Among them: becoming the fifth defensive end consensus All-American in school history and earning co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Unfortunately for the former Longhorn, the feedback he's getting doesn't anticipate his name being called tonight like projected first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, or even Auburn's Dee Ford or Missouri's Kony Ealy.

"I am hearing second and third [rounds]," said Jeffcoat, who might have to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in part because he checked in at 6-foot-3 at the NFL Combine.

Bitter he's not, but motivated he is to prove to those doubting him that he's deserving of a first-round pick.

"Honestly I feel like I played like a first-rounder this year but it doesn't always happen like that."

"Honestly I feel like I played like a first-rounder this year but it doesn't always happen like that," he said. "Whatever team gets me is going to get a guy that plays his butt off and I will be excited to play for that organization.

In Peter Schrager's seven-round mock draft on FoxSports.com Jeffcoat is slated to go 78th overall (3rd round) to the Dallas Cowboys, which would make him the 10th DE selected. Why?

NFL.com lists the following as his weaknesses: "Needs more time in the weight room, as evidenced by 18 bench press reps at the combine, and has a very underdeveloped lower body. Tight hips. Has been slowed by injuries throughout his career and it has affected his physical development. Lacks the base strength to set the edge. Gets rooted out of the hole vs. the double team. Cannot drop his hips and turn the corner. Very inconsistent effort -- average competitiveness and desire."

Everything leading up to the NFL Draft is built upon nitpicking the tiniest of details. That type of feedback doesn't bother Jeffcoat. If anything, he welcomes it.

"It definitely fuels me whenever they project someone over you and you had a better year than them," Jeffcoat said. "But I'm not bitter or mad about it. All that being bitter does is bring negative energy on me. It doesn't affect anybody else. I just keep my head down, grind, and keep working, and eventually it will show. I was a top recruit out of high school. I ended my season real well out of college and I have showed that I can play at a high level in the NFL as well."

And going to the Cowboys wouldn't be the worst place to go for a player who grew up just north of Dallas in Plano, Texas, and whose father, Jim Jeffcoat, played for Dallas from 1983-94.

Jim Jeffcoat is now the defensive line coach at Colorado where his son has spent the last several weeks working out. He's told his son he's done everything he could do up to this point. It's out of his hands now.

"He said that after the combine and pro day that you put it all out there, you played your best ball out there this season," Jackson Jeffcoat said. "You showed that you can play outside linebacker and defensive end so there's nothing else that you can do. Now just give it to God. However he decides it goes, it goes."

Jeffcoat said he's spoken to between 15 and 20 teams. The teams he's worked out for that he's allowed to disclose are the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Atlanta Falcons. He said he worked out with a couple of more, including one last week.

"It's crazy to me. It almost feels like it's unreal," said Jeffcoat, who will watch the draft from his family's home in Colorado. "But, again, I worked my way up to this. I've really competed. This is where I want to be. This is just the beginning. Just because I make it doesn't mean I'm done. There's still work to do."

And plenty of doubters to prove wrong.

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