CB/PR/KR/WR Adoree' Jackson
Drafted: Round 1, No. 18 overall
Team: Tennessee Titans
How good could Adoree' Jackson be if he focused solely on playing offense?
“I think he'd be a Biletnikoff candidate if he played receiver,” former USC linebacker Su'a Cravens said at the 2015 Pac-12 media days. “He's blazing fast. He can jump out the gym. Adoree' can do anything he puts his mind to.”
So how good could he be if he devoted himself solely to defense?
That’s the question that Jackson set out to answer last season. After a seven-month hiatus to pursue his Olympic dreams in the long jump, Jackson returned to the USC football team and slipped right back into being a dynamic playmaker. Early in fall camp, he picked off three passes, returning two for touchdowns.
When the ball is in Jackson’s hands, he is electric. But the Trojans gambled that a singular defensive focus woult help him get his hands on the ball more — through additional pass deflections and interceptions.
Despite his uncanny athleticism and playmaking ability, Jackson had only one career interception entering his junior year — an uninspiring number for a player considered to be one of the top cornerbacks in the nation and a player that set lofty goals for himself, saying that he wanted to win the Heisman Trophy, the Jim Thorpe Award, be an All-American and win a national championship.
While he still dabbled on offense on occasion, playing 23 snaps on that side of the ball, Jackson fully invested on the defensive side and the results proved it worthy of a Wall Street veteran. Jackson accomplished two of his big goals being named an All-American and becoming the second Trojan to win the Thorpe Award, joining 1989 winner Mark Carrier. His junior campaign featured five interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 16 deflections. He was tied for fourth on the team with 55 tackles and recovered two fumbles.
"He's as good a person as he is a football player. That's what he is," defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford said. "Studies it, knows it, wants to know his opponent inside and out. When he makes a mistake, he's always looking to make up for it."
He didn't play much offense, but the amazing plays didn't go away.
The two-time team Most Valuable Player and a mentor to other players, Jackson was one of the best returners in the country, taking two kickoffs and two punts to the house. His touches were hold-your-breath, potential jaw-dropping moments. He scored three times against Notre Dame, returning a punt for a score, leaping over the kicker en route to a kickoff touchdown and taking a swing pass from midfield to the end zone. He finished the year with seven carries for 51 yards and two catches for 76 yards on offense.
He was sixth in the country with a 29.5 kickoff return average. His 15.8 yards per punt return was second in the nation. Both numbers led the Pac-12. He also finished in the top 20 in the nation in interceptions and passes defended. Those were just the highlight stats from his junior year when he played 906 total plays -- third most on the team
His USC draft bio is eight pages long. No other Trojan that is draft eligible has more than a three-page bio.
Now the Titans will get the opportunity to fill up page after page of bio info as Jackson goes to the NFL where few doubt he will be able to become an impact player. While his size as a cornerback has been questioned, Jackson makes up for it with his athleticism. He was often left on an island in Clancy Pendergast's defense as the Trojans tried to bring pressure to get to the quarterback. Jackson was a much more aggressive defender this season, selling out for some extra big plays though he did give up a couple of big plays because of his change in style.
Even if he doesn't develop as a cornerback, he should be in the league for years to come as a playmaking returner capable of swinging a game once the ball gets in his hands.
Gardena (Calif.) Serra
5-foot-10, 186 pounds
31 3/8-inch arm length
9 1/4-inch hands
16 reps on bench press
36.0-inch vertical jump
122-inch broad jump
Scout Pre-Draft Rankings
No. 3 cornerback in the draft
No. 13 overall prospect
Other Draft Rankings
CBS: No. 37 overall, No. 6 CB
NFL.com (Mayock): No. 22 overall, No. 3 CB
NFL.com (Jeremiah): No. 33 overall, No. 5 CB
ESPN: No. 29 overall, No. 5 CB
WalterFootball.com: No. 4 CB
“There are two things teams love -- ball production from cornerbacks and return men who can play meaningful snaps on every down. Jackson fits those criteria. His lack of size and length are concerns, but he has the athleticism to step right in as a slot corner on the next level. His combination of coverage and return talent could make him an early impact player.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
"With all due respect to Michigan's Heisman Trophy finalist Jabrill Peppers, after serving primarily as a cornerback but also seeing time at wide receiver and as the Trojans' primary kick and punt returner the past three seasons, Jackson was arguably the most versatile and exciting player in the country. His head coach at USC, Clay Helton, likes to refer to Jackson as Superman. It is easy to see why.....Jackson is arguably the elite athlete in the 2017 draft and his ability to create big plays as a returner and occasionally on offense only make him that much more intriguing. Jackson surrendered nearly as many big plays as he delivered as a cornerback, however, something to keep in mind given this year's exceptional class at the position. The team that drafts Jackson with the intention of him playing cornerback may need a free safety with range to help protect him." - Rob Rang, CBS Sports
"I wanted to stick the best player at all times. It wouldn’t be fair to myself and everybody else. That’s just the competitor that I am. I want to make sure that I’m going against the best and I know everybody else would want to see it. Just having that drive in me and that killer instinct that I want to have to make sure that I'm going against the best." -- Adoree' Jackson on shadowing an opposing team's No. 1 receiver most of the 2016 season.
"It's one of those things where you know if someone is good, they're going to produce anyways. I don't think that has anything to do with it, the uncertainty. I know that God put me in a position to play ball and do what I do well. I feel like if I was to go and didn't go where I wanted to go, I'd still be out there and be able to produce if it's God-willing and everything that he's given me. Just to use it to my best ability. I don't think that goes into the factors." -- Adoree' Jackson on being productive at the NFL level regardless of what team selects him.
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