While the other half of 'Bama's CB duo has gotten more talk around here Jackson will almost certainly come off the board before teammate Javier Arenas with some projections placing him as high as #25 to the Ravens. What buzz Jackson has gotten on SB has been as a sleeper option for the Colts at #31 and it's not hard to see why. He's a considered borderline 1st rounder, unlikely to make it out of the 2nd, by most (so could be a clear 1st rounder to the Colts independent staff) and is a CB with good zone coverage skills, but extensive man coverage experience. He's also aggressive in run support, scoring another mark in his favor.
At 5'10 1/2" 196lbs with a 4.48 40 time (.03 off the best among this years CBs) Jackson has solid size and speed. He consistently a factor in games racking up 153 tackles, 29 pass breakups and 5 INTs in 3 years starting at Alabama. The common knocks on Jackson are a lack of elite speed and quickness and a tendency to gamble (a trait that would have to be checked if the Colts expect to trust him in cover-3 looks).
Although Jackson was used in man coverage a lot, he may be better as a zone cornerback. Jackson's anticipation skills are very good and he reads the opposing quarterback really well. Locates the ball quickly once it's in the air. Uses his physicality nicely in zone to move the receiver to make a play on the ball. More of a leg tackler, but does show he has the skills to wrap up and drag down. Plays stronger than he probably is. Struggles to shed blockers to help support in run coverage. Tries to be too flashy instead of being sound. Jackson's size isn't all that great, but he is a physical cornerback. That helps him make up for a lack of agility and speed.
Good route recognition. Reads the body lean of his opponent and has the athleticism to react accordingly. He anticipates the path of the ball and extends to reach around a receiver to break up passes. Reads run quickly and attacks the run on the perimeter. Good awareness for zone coverage. A bit high in his backpedal and has some stiffness in his hips, but trusts his eyes and locates the football quickly. Savvy, physical player.
Highly competitive player that puts in time in the film room. Asked for his grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, but didn't read it upon receiving it. Jackson gave the unopened envelope to Nick Saban to hold until after the BCS National Championship game so that the contents wouldn't be a distraction.
Has been a highly-productive player in a complex college scheme. Is a really instinctive performer against the run and pass. Has the aggressiveness and confidence we love to see in CBs and does a great job in man and zone coverage.
Durability (past shoulder surgeries) is the main area of concern with Jackson.... Jackson takes too many chances at times and can be beaten for the big play.
Jackson is a very physical, aware and instinctive DB with the tools to play in Indy's scheme. His lack of elite athleticism isn't an overwhelming concern on a team that gives CBs help regularly and his gambler streak can probably be coached out (it might have been something encouraged by his Alabama coaches). Jackson is a legitmate dark horse at #31 and would be fantastic value if he fell to #63.
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