By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Adoree’ Jackson is one of the more underrated prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. In a typical draft class, he would be one of the top cornerbacks and a likely top-20 pick. The 2017 NFL Draft, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded at cornerback, and that could make Jackson an excellent value pick late in the first round or early in the second round. In speaking to scouts from a variety of teams, they all heaped praise on Jackson and liked him as a player. He is a legit cover corner to blanket receivers and prevent separation. Over the past three seasons, Jackson was a star for the Trojans.
Jackson became a starter in 2014 and was a sensation who also contributed as a wide receiver and returner/coverage defender on special teams. Defensively, the freshman had 49 tackles with 10 passes deflected. He also caught 10 receptions for 138 yards with three touchdowns on offense. On special teams, Jackson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 30 yards per kick return.
In 2015, Jackson played on offense and defense again. He had 35 tackles with eight passes broken up and one interception at corner. As a wide receiver, Jackson hauled in 27 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns.
Jackson was excellent in 2016, though he didn’t play as much offensively. The junior totaled 55 tackles with 11 passes broken up and five interceptions. He also returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns plus made a touchdown reception on offense. In the season opener, Jackson put together an awesome game against Alabama as he shut down star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He held Ridley to only two receptions for nine yards on the night.
Jackson is a natural cover corner with speed, quick feet, and agility. He is very fluid and does a superb job of running the route with receivers to prevent them from gaining separation. He keeps receiver from coming open and is quick to recover if they get a step. Jackson has nice hips to turn and run downfield with speed receivers. He also is a willing run defender who will contribute to the ground defense and tackle.
Jackson has phenomenal ball skills. He is very skilled to slap passes away and times his contact well while being a threat to pick off the pass. Sources say they like how Jackson plays the ball well, particularly in flight. He also has excellent hands and is a dangerous threat to pick passes off. When Jackson gets the ball in his hands, he is dangerous to rip off big returns. His speed and elusiveness in the open field are very impressive. Those qualities are also what makes him a dynamic punt returner. Jackson is very fast, has good vision, and follows his blocks well. Once in the open field, he hits the afterburners and defenders can’t catch him from behind.
There are some areas that Jackson can improve upon for the pros. Sources say that Jackson freelances too much, which gets him in trouble. He also has to work on keeping his feet, as that led to some painful blown coverage plays in 2016. Big receivers could give Jackson problems, too, so he could use some NFL coaching on how to defend against them.
For the NFL, Jackson has the ability to be an outside corner as well as a nickelback. He could provide a serious impact on special teams as a returner, but his NFL team could pick certain spots and limit how many times he is used on returns to protect him from injury. As a top-three corner, his team might be afraid of using him very much on special teams. However, some team sources think that Jackson could be the best returner in the 2017 NFL Draft. He also could be an occasional wide receiver on offense like he was at USC.
Jackson has a range from the middle of the first round to early in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Adam Jones. Sources have compared Jackson to Jones, which makes a lot of sense. They are almost identical in size; both are extremely fast with quick feet, an ability to run with receivers to prevent separation, and can star on special teams. In the NFL, I think Jackson will be a cornerback comparable to Jones, with the exception that Jackson doesn’t have off-the-field issues like Jones did in the early portion of his career. Another comparison that scouts have mentioned for Jackson is a faster version of Janoris Jenkins.
NFL Matches: Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tennessee, Detroit, Miami, Oakland, Kansas City, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, New York Jets, New Orleans and Buffalo
There are a lot of potential fits for Jackson in the middle of the first round to early in the second round. In the middle of Round 1, the Colts need another corner to pair with Vontae Davis. Philadelphia needs some cornerback upgrades as well. Jackson could be in play for the Eagles in the first or second round.
The Ravens could use a corner upgrade to go with Jimmy Smith. The Titans’ second first-round pick could be a fit for Jackson as they need a No. 1 cover corner for their defense. Sources with Tennessee like Jackson as well.
In the 20s, Jackson has a lot of potential landing spots. The Lions, at No. 21, could use a corner to pair with Darius Slay. One pick later, Miami could consider adding a corner to pair with Xavien Howard. At No. 24, the Raiders could consider some cornerback upgrades after having coverage problems during the 2016 season. Staying in the AFC West, Kansas City could use a corner upgrade across from Marcus Peters.
Dallas needs their cornerback talent badly, and Jackson could be the best player available when the team goes on the clock for the 28th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Sources with the Cowboys told WalterFootball.com at the combine that they really liked Jackson. His speed would help Dallas defend the speed receivers of fieled by its division rivals, like the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., the Eagles’ Torrey Smith and the Redskins’ Jamison Crowder. Jackson could be the fit for the Cowboys.
With the 30th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh could use a corner to pair with Artie Burns.
To start the second round, the Browns could consider a cornerback at pick No. 33. Cleveland has Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor, but all good defenses have three corners. Jackson is a good fit for Gregg Williams as well.
Cornerback is a need for the 49ers and Bears. Either team could select Jackson early in Round 2. He shouldn’t fall past the Saints, if they take a pass-rusher and safety in the first round, or the Eagles or Bills. Buffalo lost Stephon Gilmore in free agency, and if the Bills don’t take a corner in the first round, they will probably be taking one in Round 2.
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