Diamond in the Rough: Damien Jacobs

Diamond in the Rough: Damien Jacobs, DT, Florida
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Every year in the NFL Draft, there are talented players that slip through the cracks. Players go undrafted for a variety of reasons like being too undersized, a lack of speed, injuries, a lack of production in college or playing at lower level of competition. Some players end up not getting invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and end up falling to the late rounds or going undrafted all together.

The history of the NFL features some great players who went undrafted, including Hall of Famers like quarterback Warren Moon. In recent years, there have been other superstars who were undrafted free agents, including Tony Romo, Kurt Warner, London Fletcher, Antonio Gates, Arian Foster, Brian Waters and Priest Holmes. Going undrafted didn’t stop Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith from becoming a Super Bowl MVP.

With so much talent falling through the cracks, WalterFootball.com decided to start a new series to showcase some of the under-the-radar talents in the 2014 draft class. These players could be late-round picks or undrafted free agents who end up becoming steals for their NFL teams.

This edition features Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs. Sources with NFL teams tell WalterFootball.com that Jacobs may slip through the draft because of an injury history that limited his collegiate production, but they feel he has tools to play in the NFL. The senior totaled 24 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss for the Gators in 2013 while coming off an injury. Jacobs (6-3, 300) was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. WalterFootball.com spoke with Jacobs, who believes he can compete well at the next level.

How do you assess your senior year?

“I played a solid season. Without the injury before the season started, I think would have come in better shape, and it took about four weeks to get back in shape. I think I did pretty well considering the hand I was dealt.”

What do you feel you’ll bring to an NFL team?

“I have a lot of strengths. I feel I’m a really good football player. Off the field, I think I can do a lot and help in the community. I think in a variety of ways I can be a positive in the locker room.”

In a few months, you’ll be battling to make an NFL roster. What are the areas you feel you need to improve upon for the pro game?

“Pad level. I got a lot more strength to use if I keep my pads down. That and maintaining my strength and stability.”

When you interview with NFL teams, how are you going to sell yourself?

“I think I can impress them with intelligence and knowledge of the game. A lot of younger d-lineman aren’t as observant of the game with the ins-and-outs of it. I think I can talk a lot of football, and they’ll be surprised at how I’ve studied the game that’s played on Sundays.”

Will you be going to the Combine?

“I haven’t received an official invite yet, but I’m working out and preparing in case they end up sending it.”

Do you have any goals in pre-draft workouts to help make teams notice you?

“Yeah, but I’m not really saying them. I just to take full advantage of the training. I have an idea of what I want to be around to impress.”

Who are some of your college teammates who you think will be getting drafted in the years to come?

“The good thing about Florida is they have a lot of guys that are probably going to be able to play. I think Dante Fowler will go high. Antonio Morrison is another. There are a bunch of guys that will be able to play on Sundays.”

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