Former Pitt cornerback Dane Jackson was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL draft with the 239th overall pick on Saturday. Jackson was projected to go in the fourth or fifth round but dropped down the board to the final round of the draft. Jackson is heading to a popular destination for Pitt alums, as fellow defensive backs Ryan Lewis and Lafayette Pitts both had recent stints with the Bills organization, as did former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman.
“The Bills got themselves a steal in Dane Jackson,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said of the pick, according to John McGonigal of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He is as good as any cornerback I’ve ever coached. Dane was not only a playmaker for us, but he became an impactful leader as a senior captain. He showed on the field this past season, as well as at the Senior Bowl, that he’s a disruptive corner and a big-time competitor.”
The reasons for Jackson’s precipitous drop in the draft are not entirely clear but may have to do with a mediocre showing in the NFL combine. The native of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, posted a 4.60-second run in his first attempt at the 40-yard dash but improved that to a 4.57 on his second try. That time ranked 22nd among defensive backs and 83rd overall at the combine. Some analysts were also unimpressed with his measurables, such as his size and arm length.
However, Jackson impressed at the Senior Bowl and was widely believed to have improved his draft stock based on the strength of his performance in Alabama. That unfortunately did not turn out to be the case despite draft analysts at multiple outlets placing him in earlier rounds.
During his four active seasons at Pitt, Jackson amassed 149 tackles, 39 pass breakups, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, including one that he returned for a touchdown in Pitt’s 44-37 overtime win over Syracuse back in October 2018. He joins a Bills team that ranked fourth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing just 195.2 passing yards per game and 15 passing touchdowns. The only team to allow fewer aerial scores in 2019 was the New England Patriots, which allowed a total of 13.