Long Shot Vikings: Undrafted Rookie Spotlight, Week 3

Continuing the Longshot Vikings series, the next two undrafted rookies to spotlight are defensive end Marquis Jackson and fullback Zach Line. Jackson comes from Portland State, ranked as the #43 defensive end in the draft by CBS and Line comes from Southern Methodist University ranked as the #3 fullback in the draft by CBS (and #193 overall). As I did in the first article of this series, you'll get a statistical breakdown, scouting report summary and video highlights on each player. Also, as I mentioned before, be sure to check out Arif's Undrafted Free Agent Summary, as that's a great place to start to learn more about these undrafted rookies. So, hopefully this will allow you to get to know these undrafted rookies just a little bit better!

1. Marquis Jackson, DE Portland State


Height: 6'3" 5/8
Weight: 263
Age: 23
40-yard Dash: 4.98
Bench Press: 20
Vertical Jump: 32.5"
Broad Jump: 9'1"
20-yard Shuttle: 2.93
Grade: Late Round/Free Agency
Contract: 3 years, $1,495,000


Tackles for Loss


2008 - JUCO




2010 - Texas Southern




2011 - Texas Southern




2012 - Portland State




Here are what some scouting reports were saying about Jackson before the draft:


From Draft Insider:

One time highly rated defensive front seven prospect who regressed the past two years. Quick off the snap, displays terrific movement skills, and explosive at the point of attack. Plays with good pad level, works his hands throughout the action, and fluid moving in every direction. Slides laterally to make plays, shows ability dropped off the line of scrimmage, and relatively athletic. Natural pass rusher who quickly gets up the field, bends off the edge and attacks ballcarriers. Plays faster than his listed 40 time.


Versatile player who lines up standing up or with his hand on the ground outside the tackle, also at the three-technique position. Uses his supreme length to hold the line of scrimmage despite a taller build, as well as to wrap up ballcarriers in his immediate area. Explodes from his stance in pass-rush mode, too quick for FCS linemen and also capable of swatting them away with his hands when he wants to win the gap inside. Flashes a balanced and quick spin move to get inside tackles trying to take away the edge. Has a strong punch at the point of attack, allowing him to win the line or knock back retreating tackles when rushing the passer. Shows some foot quickness in space and closing speed attacking the quarterback when standing up.


Productive player. Shows some pass-rush skills and versatility


From Draft Insider:

Didn't play with a sense of urgency in 2012. Easily taken from the action by a single blocker or controlled at the point. Possesses a marginal closing burst.


Pops up out of his stance after the snap, gets away with it against lower-level competition but will need to show he can stay low. Must also prove the flexibility to turn the corner against NFL-caliber linemen, and his height/average flexibility makes it difficult for him to change directions quickly to grab elusive ballcarriers. Lacks elite bulk and strength on the edge to get off better blocks efficiently. Movement in space as a linebacker against NFL ballcarriers might be an issue unless he can learn to play with a lower pad level.


Needs technique development and does not appear to have exceptional burst, closing speed or change of direction.


Jackson was recruited out of high school to USC along with his twin brother Malik Jackson. Malik is a defensive tackle who was drafted by Denver in the 5th round of the 2012 draft, and played in 14 games last year as a rookie. Marquis however, did not go to USC as he was not academically eligible. He spent 2008 at JUCO (College of the Canyons). He did not play football in 2009, preferring to focus on his studies as he prepared to transfer to the University. Instead of going to USC as he verbally committed, he ended up choosing Texas Southern and stayed there for 2 years where he excelled on the field. But before his senior year, Texas Southern was hit with sanctions for under-performing academically. Jackson chose to transfer to Portland State without having to endure a year of sitting out due to the sanctions, and because several of his previous JUCO teammates were already there. Fun fact, the Portland State mascot is also the Vikings.

He appears to be a pass rushing specialist, but needs to develop the other parts of his game. He does have some position versatility, but his athleticism is not elite and he will need to refine his technique if he hopes to make the roster. With the defensive end position already well stocked with Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffin, Lawrence Jackson, D'Aundrae Reed, George Johnson and fellow undrafted rookie Collins Ukwu, his best shot is the practice squad this year to work on technique, and maybe a shot next year when one (or both) of Jared Allen or Brian Robison is likely on another team.

For more on Marquis Jackson, check out this article highlighting his transfer to Texas Southern. There is also this little write-up done prior to his senior year at PSU. And here are some highlight videos:


Portland State Football Season Preview: Part 2 (via PortlandStateViks)

College Football Performance Awards - Marquis Jackson Interview (via cfpamedia)

2. Zach Line, FB SMU


Height: 6'1"
Weight: 232
Age: 23
Arm Length: 30 ¾"
Hand Size: 8 ¾"
40-yard Dash: 4.77
Bench Press: 26
Vertical Jump: 30.5"
Broad Jump: 9'3"
Grade: 4th-6th Round
Contract: 3 year/$1,498,000

SMU Stats








































Here are what some scouting reports had to say about Zach Line prior to the draft:


From Draft Insider:

Strong, interior back who will also get consideration as a West Coast fullback. Patient, waits for blocks develop, and displays solid running vision. Powers his way on the inside breaking tackles and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Aggressively goes after defenders, driving his shoulders into tacklers and falling forward. Carries the pile for extra yardage, consistently runs north/south, and works until the whistle blows. Effectively picks up blocking assignments, seeing the blitz and giving effort.


Solid north-south runner with the eyes to find creases and the feet to make the quick cut inside to take advantage of open space. Follows offensive linemen on the move, knowing when to burst past them. Arm tackles come up short against his ever-working legs and nice lean, and he gives excellent effort to get an extra yard once wrapped up inside. Not a pure power back; he will burst through the line if the opportunity arises and has enough speed to break off a big run before getting dragged down. Sets up safeties in the open field with a shimmy and cut in either direction. Capable receiver out of the backfield, moves the chains and will make the first man miss at times. His pass protection skills are also solid, as he can anchor against some blitzers and even bringing a punch to defensive tackles to help his linemen - even if he is inconsistent holding his ground against stronger defenders and sustaining.

From National Football Post:

SMU's Zach Line is a good athlete with a strong, thick build with good foot quickness and agility to consider for the position at the NFL level. He shows very good competitiveness as a runner, particularly between the tackles as he fights for extra yards and falls forward almost all the time. He has good instincts and will generally find the right cutback lane or hole to hit. Line is a good pass protector who will give up his body to make a play for his quarterback. He shows good hands with the ability to adjust to the ball in the air out of the backfield, especially on screen passes. Line is a durable, tough player who consistently plays a tough brand of football.


From Draft Insider:

Straight-line ballcarrier who loses a lot of momentum cutting back against the grain or changing direction. Lacks the speed and quickness necessary to turn the corner.


Considered a running back ‘tweener of sorts, not quite quick enough to be an elite NFL back but not as strong as most power backs needed in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Best as a straight-ahead or one-cut runner than trying to make people miss, as his stop-start ability is not exceptional. Ball security has been questionable.

From National Football Post:

Line has only average play speed and explosiveness with the ball in his hands, and he lacks the suddenness to take defenders miss on a regular basis. He is a move-the-chains type of runner in college and is not a player who will hit the home run. He lacks the speed to turn the corner and make long runs at the next level. While he gives a good effort in pass protection, he does miss and can lose in pass protection. Line is not going to gain a lot of yards after the catch as he lacks explosion. He has no return value for special teams, but he is a player who must make a mark on special teams


Zach Line had a highly productive career at SMU, even breaking Eric Dickerson's school record for all-time rushing yardage. He earned first-team All-Conference honors all three years he was a starter. His senior year he was Conference USA's Offensive Player of the Year. Despite his college accolades, his mix of size and speed combination is not ideal for an NFL running back, and he projects as more of a fullback, especially a lead-blocker in a West Coast offense like ours. His one-cut, move-the-chains style of running might make him an eventual replacement for Toby Gerhart however, and he has the ability to backup Jerome Felton at the FB spot too. His versatility may just earn him a spot on the roster if he can out-perform 2012 surprise Matt Asiata. At the very least, he seems like a shoe-in for the practice squad assuming he can pass waivers.

There is quite a lot of information out there about Zach Line, but I recommend this excellent Bleacher Report Scouting Profile. Also check out these highlight videos:

Zach Line top 5 college back (via dwid1984)

SMU's College Football highlight reel featuring Zach Line vs. TCU Horned Frogs (via YouPlusDallas)

Former SMU RB Zach Line at SMU Pro Day (via Sam Erwin)

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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