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Is Adoree’ Jackson up to challenge of being CB1 for the Giants?

Jackson will inherit the role of being the Giants’ No. 1 cornerback after the loss of James Bradberry

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Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
Adoree’ Jackson
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Adoree’ Jackson is, by default, now the No. 1 cornerback for the New York Giants. Is Jackson, a sixth-year player who has never been a true top-tier cornerback, up to the challenge?

Let’s discuss Jackson as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

By the numbers

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 185
Age: 26
Position: Cornerback
Experience: 5
Contract: Year 2 of three-year, $39 million deal | Guaranteed: $24.5 million | 2022 cap hit: $9.288 million

Career to date

Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
Adoree’ Jackson after dropping an interception vs. Atlanta that contributed to a Giants’ loss.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Jackson has been a good player during his five-year NFL career. He has 53 starts in 59 games since the Tennessee Titans made him a first-round pick in 2017. In his four full, healthy seasons he has not had a passer rating against higher than 95.9 or a completion percentage against of higher than 62.9.

The Athletic wrote this about Jackson shortly after the Giants signed him:

He can play. He’s a terrific teammate as well. His laid-back personality seemed to frustrate coaches at times — Mike Vrabel certainly prefers the constant snarl of a Butler — but if he’s past the knee concerns, he’s a good starting cornerback at least.

In a 2021 film study, our Nick Falato said Jackson was “more of a No. 2 cornerback who was operating as a No. 1 for the Tennessee Titans.”

Falato also said that Jackson is “not always technically sound on defense and he has given up some big plays in his career, but he’s a great athlete with a ton of upside who has the movement and coverage skills to start and excel in this league.”

The biggest hole in Jackson’s game has always been an inability to be a game-changing playmaker. In 2,534 pass coverage snaps, Jackson has only three interceptions. If you recall, Jackson dropped an end zone interception in the fourth quarter of a Week 3 game last season against the Atlanta Falcons. That play ended up allowing Atlanta to score a tying touchdown and was a critical play in that week’s loss.

2022 outlook

With James Bradberry in Philadelphia, Jackson will be the leader of an otherwise young and non-descript cornerback group.

This spring, Jackson told media that he was trying to “just lead by example and understand that’s the position I’m in and taking full responsibility and accepting the role that’s given to me.”

Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson wasn’t ready this spring to commit to having Jackson shadow opponent’s top receivers.

“We’ll see how that plays out as we go. Whether we will match, whether we won’t match. We’ll see,” Henderson said. “Right now we’re just playing left and right and playing ‘em on both sides and just trying to see where we end up.”

Pro Football Focus ranks Jackson as the league’s 12th-best outside cornerback, putting him “on the cusp of elite.”

Jackson has been a brick wall on his side of the field over the past few years. Among qualifying corners since 2019, he boasts the fifth-lowest target rate (12.0%), sixth-most passing stops (29) and second-fewest yards per coverage snap (0.69). Quarterbacks are largely avoiding him in coverage, and he’s blowing up anything underneath him when given the opportunity. While the Tennessee Titans did cut him in the middle of that stretch, the data speaks for itself. Jackson earned a top-five coverage grade in his first season with the Giants in 2021 and will eye elite-level play in 2022 and beyond at the Meadowlands.

Pro Football Network ranks Jackson No. 20.

If he can handle the No. 1 cornerback duty in Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme, and make more game-changing plays, Jackson could move up those rankings.