Total Score: 64
Player Grade: 65 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 13 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 12 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +0
Positional Bonus: +3
Today, Steven Jackson turns 30. And that age is what hurts Jackson in these rankings. There are a lot of young, up and coming backs elsewhere in the league with fresh legs. Jackson’s legs may be as fresh as they come for a 30-year old, but for most NFL teams at this point in his career he would be considered a situational player. Last year, only 3 starting running backs in the league began the season age 28 or older: Jackson, Michael Turner, and Frank Gore. This year, there will be three more to that list: Adrian Peterson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Reggie Bush. It’s a young man’s position.
But Jackson looks to show that he still has quite a bit left in the tank. Previously, I’ve compared his potential impact in Atlanta to that of Corey Dillon’s impact in New England back in 2004. Dillon turned 30 that year as well and had an outstanding season helping reestablish a Patriots ground attack that led them to a Super Bowl win. Jackson hopes to improve what was an abysmal ground attack for the Falcons last year spear-headed by Turner.
Jackson brings power and physicality to the Falcons offense, something that had diminished in Turner over the years. He also brings much-needed value in the passing game, where he won’t need to be pulled off the field when the Falcons utilize the no-huddle attack. The no-huddle was the bread and butter of the Falcons offense last year, and Turner had to give way to Jacquizz Rodgers due to poor hands. Jackson will be a true everydown back for the team in 2013.
But the Falcons will probably also try and pick and choose spots for Jackson. They will likely want him to be more of a fourth quarter finisher, a role in which Rodgers proved to be more effective than Turner at times last season. They will also want to keep Jackson fresh for the stretch run at the end of the year, which means he could also be on a “pitch count” early in the season. All that said, Jackson has the potential to be a lot more valuable to the Falcons in 2013 than this ranking indicates.