Recapping the top 10 picks in the NFL Draft
Michael Jackson Sr. has clearly made it known that becoming a father has turned him into a man who appreciates what’s precious in life and how important it is to uphold his responsibilities.
“Basically, where I”m from in Birmingham, Alabama,’’ Jackson said the day after Michael Antwan Jackson Jr. was born in April 2018, “a lot of fathers aren’t in their child’s life. So, that means a lot to us. Every step of the way I am going to be there.’’
On Saturday, Jackson, a physically imposing University of Miami cornerback sometimes referred to as Mike Jack, reached another pinnacle he has dreamed about for years and will help him achieve security for his young family.
Jackson, a key component of the Miami Hurricanes’ top-five defense and No. 1 pass defense, was drafted Saturday with the 20th pick of the fifth round — No. 158 overall — by the Dallas Cowboys.
He was the second Hurricane chosen in this year’s draft.
The senior, who was named along with teammate Jaquan Johnson as one of 14 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, started every game at cornerback for the Hurricanes and broke up six passes while helping Miami limit opponents to just 135.6 passing yards per game. He was named an all-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention as a senior after earning second-team all-ACC honors following his junior season.
His physical gifts made Jackson a tantalizing Draft prospect even when he was less than perfect technically. Jackson measured in at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in March, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, which tied him for the eighth fastest time among cornerbacks in Indianapolis.
Jackson proved he could use his size, too. Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph emphasizes length and physicality at his position, and Jackson more than held his own in run support. Jackson finished ninth on the team with 42 total tackles, and added 3 1/2 tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks in his final season.
Jackson’s development is a nice success story for Rumph, who developed Jackson from a three-star prospect into an NFL draft pick. Jackson arrived in Coral Gables as a three-star cornerback in the 247Sports.com composite rankings out of Spain Park in Birmingham. He had modest interest with fewer than a dozen scholarship offers and Rumph helped him become a no-doubt Draft choice after wrapping up his four years in South Florida.
“I made the right decision. I did the right thing,’’ Jackson said last month of staying for his final year of NCAA eligibility. “No matter what anybody says, the mock drafts, they don’t mean nothing to me. I just stuck to my gut and came back to school and now I had a great [UM Pro Day] workout.”
As for that baby, the morning after he was born, Jackson showed up for the Canes’ spring game and was applauded by his teammates and coaches when he arrived.
“It takes a village to raise a child,’’ Jackson said back then. “My village is here — the University of Miami, my girlfriend, my family, my family back in Alabama. It feels good.”