The 2017 NFL Draft is pretty deep at cornerback, and while some have their ups and downs, few have the overall athleticism and playmaking ability of former USC Trojan, Adoree Jackson. A former captain on his college team, Jackson was a triple-threat player, providing big-play capability as a cornerback, kick returner and even on offense.
Feeding into his football prowess is his excellence as a world-class track and field competitor. Jackson just missed qualifying for the 400-meter relay and the long jump for the USA National Team in 2015, but his 4.42 40-yard dash speed is evident on tape. Jackson is currently pegged to go somewhere in the second round, and while the Cincinnati Bengals don’t necessarily need to spend another high pick on a corner, the team is definitely in need for more speed and athleticism in 2017.
Aside from being able to make plays in multiple facets of the game, Jackson is known as a locker room leader and a high-character guy. But, the question NFL scouts are asking themselves is if Jackson will be a Jack-of-all-trades and a niche player at the pro level, or if he can truly master the cornerback position and be a roster staple for many years.
Weight: 186 pounds
Vertical Jump: 36”
Broad Jump: 10’2”
40-Yard Dash: 4.42 seconds
Position: Cornerback/Kick Returner
College: Southern California
Projected Round: 2
Interceptions: Six in career, one touchdown return; five in 2016
Passes Defended: 28 in career; 11 in 2016
Tackles: 139 total; 55 in 2016
Forced Fumbles: Three in career; one in 2016
Kick Return Stats: 2,141 career kickoff return yards, 27.1 yards per return average, four kickoff return touchdowns; 578 career punt return yards, 12.6 yards per return average, four punt return touchdowns.
Offensive Stats: 39 career catches, 628 yards, six touchdown catches; 15 carries, 92 yards.
I was privileged to see quite a bit of Jackson as a Trojan here on the West Coast. Almost every time the ball was in his hands, something huge happened—be it on defense, offense or special teams. But, like Jabrill Peppers of Michigan, who was also a threat in multiple facets as well, NFL teams are wary about his long-term ability to be a viable NFL corner.
As you see in the clip above, Jackson’s closing speed is incredible and he played well against strong teams like Washington and Stanford, while going up against their best receivers. Still, he is a bit raw and has a gambler’s side to him, where he can rely too much on his athleticism and bite on a double-move to attempt a big play. He had an interception in the Rose Bowl in the exciting win against Penn State, but he was also beat a couple of times in the game.
The good news is that he’s young (just 21-years-old) and there is a ton of clay there for an able defensive coordinator to mold. Aside from an ankle injury that forced him out of the Rose Bowl early, he has also been very durable, playing 39 games in three years at USC. However, because of some minor current limitations at corner and his crazy ability to make a huge play with the football in his hands, on-field comparisons seem to fall somewhere in the Adam Jones/Devin Hester range, which most teams would love, depending on what they’re looking for.
As far as the Bengals go, they seem to be committed to Jones, despite his continuing questionable behavior, and also have former first round corners Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III under contract, as well as Josh Shaw, who they like. If the team were to take Jackson, it is because he inexplicably fell further than expected and they stick to their best player available strategy.