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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

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Could Iowa’s Joshua Jackson help fill out the Giants’ secondary?

Iowa v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Iowa’s Joshua Jackson burst on to the college football scene with an incredible junior campaign that included a pair of interceptions to help power the Hawkeyes past Ohio State, and another three against Wisconsin.

A former receiver, Jackson has some of the best ball skills in the draft, and was one of the most productive defensive backs in the country.

However, he has also only started 14 games at corner.

Without a proven third corner, the New York Giants are need of starter-quality depth at the position, and they also seem to be interested in creating competition at the free safety position. Will Jackson’s impressive season in 2017 put him on their radar?

Measurables

Pros

  • Excellent ball skills. 18 passes defensed and 8 interceptions (2 touchdowns) in 2017.
  • Good frame for the position. Isn’t likely to get bullied by bigger receivers
  • Good quickness, lower-body explosiveness, and play strength.
  • Very disciplined defender. Stays within the structure of the defense and doesn’t freelance.
  • Capable blitzer.
  • Good motor.
  • Has upside as a kick returner.

Cons

  • Does not have elite speed. Only timed a 4.56 in the 40 yard dash.
  • Rarely played press-man corner.
  • Only one year of production.
  • Arms are on the short side.

Prospect Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTBbfBZ_Wuw

What They’re Saying

IN OUR VIEW:

Every year some lanky cornerback draws the distinction of being this classes’ Sherman (or Rod Woodson) but Jackson might actually live up to the comparison. Like Sherman at Stanford, Jackson played both wide receiver and cornerback in college, a fact that honed both players’ route anticipation and ball-skills. Questions about schematic fit pushed Sherman into the fifth round of the 2012 draft. In part because of the trail Sherman blazed, scouts won’t make the same mistake with Jackson.

-Rob Rang (NFLDraftScout.com)

Final Thoughts

For some teams, Jackson could be the top cornerback on the board, while other might view him as a mid-rounder or even a candidate to convert to safety.

It all depends on what defensive scheme a team runs and how much weight they give to the 40 yard dash.

If Jackson remains at corner, he could be prized by teams that run a Cover 3 or Cover 4 (quarters) defense. Those were the two coverage schemes Iowa ran the most (almost exclusively in the games I watched), and Jackson excelled in them. He is quick and smoothe dropping in to zones, be they shallow or deep, and has great discipline in taking or passing off assignments. Jackson also has solid instincts in the passing game and enough quickness and explosiveness to quickly close on passes, both of which are vital in Cover 3 or 4. His background as a receiver also shows up, and errant or careless passes can easily find themselves coming back at an offense. He could be an ideal corner for a team like the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (assuming they keep the trappings of Sean McDermott’s defense), or the Seattle Seahawks (who rely heavily on Cover 3).

Jackson’s fit with the Giants is more at safety.

James Bettcher’s defense depended much more on press-man coverage at Arizona, using physical and talented corners to disrupt timing and routes in 1-on-1 matchups, freeing up players to blitz and give pass rushers more time to get to quarterbacks. They sought to disrupt offenses at the snap, rather than waiting to capitalize on a mistake made by a frustrated offense limited to underneath passes. Because Jackson just isn’t used to playing press coverage and doesn’t have the speed to hang with many receivers in tight coverage, the Giants might look at him as a Day 2 selection and potential free safety, where his instincts and ball skills would still fit.