When cornerback Adoree Jackson was brought to New York last season from Tennessee, he was supposed to form a dynamic duo in the Giants defensive backfield with James Bradberry.
One year later and Jackson is the one who remains, while questions exist on the other side as to who will be his partner on the perimeter. This season he has to be the premier coverage guy that many believed he could be coming out of college.
He will no doubt be asked to cover the best that the opposition has to offer on a weekly basis. In Wink Martindale's defense, that means he will be playing a lot of man-to-man.
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During his first season with the Giants, there were questions about his overall effectiveness and his health, but all of those questions will likely be answered this season.
Is the 26-year-old Jackson ready to emerge as a force at the position, or will he continue to be a decent cornerback who needs a Batman to his Robin? We take a look at the good, the great, and the ugly of Jackson’s game.
The Good: He Plays Through the Receiver’s Hands
Jackson might not have a lot of interceptions in his career, but he has 41 pass defenses in 59 games played over his five seasons in the NFL.
He does an excellent job of recognizing when a receiver extends his hands to catch the ball, and Jackson has a knack for chopping the hands of the receiver so that they can not secure the pass. He also deflects a lot of passes before they can reach the hands of the receiver.
Jackson does a good job of locating the ball in flight, and because he is normally close to the receiver, it allows him to consistently make plays on the ball.
The first clip shows Jackson defending an inside skinny post in the red zone. He was able to stay in phase, and when the ball was delivered, he swatted it away.
The second clip shows Jackson covering the Washington Commander’s receiver on a fade.
He is able to stay in phase with the receiver, and when the ball gets close enough, he is able to play through the ball.
The Great: He is Sticky in Man Coverage
One of the more difficult things to do as a receiver in the NFL is to shake Jackson. He plays with great balance and has a tremendous change of direction.
Another thing that makes him great in man coverage is his ability to use his hands. Not only can he jam you on the line of scrimmage, but he also tracks body movement with his hands well and even knows how to properly grab a receiver in a manner that doesn't get called often by the zebras.
If you are a quarterback throwing Jackson's way, be prepared for a contested pass.
These two clips are from the Giants game against the Raiders. The first clip shows Jackson playing man coverage on the receiver trying to run a corner route.
He is able to get his hands on the receiver early, which throws off the receiver's route timing and forces the quarterback to throw a low “my guy or no guy ball,” which the receiver was unable to catch.
The second clip has him lined up on the five-yard line trying to protect the endzone and defending an out route by the receiver.
The Ugly: He Does Not Take the Ball Away
Jackson has three interceptions in five NFL seasons. He had six interceptions in three seasons at USC. Five of those came in his final season as a Trojan.
His lack of ball skills is surprising when you consider how dynamic he has been as a return specialist over his football career. It is clear that he is not comfortable when he is attacking the football as a defender. That has caused balls to be caught on him that he probably should have been able to snatch away.
It has more often than not resulted in Jackson dropping a ball that should have been caught. Not converting turnovers is one of the things that soured the Titans on Jackson.
The first clip is a deep pass to Tyreek Hill that he covers perfectly but does not come down with the ball and gives the Chiefs another opportunity.
The second clip is a dropped interception against the Raiders.
The third clip is an interception that Jackson comes down with, but you can see he catches it in his body instead of high pointing the ball.
Jackson is still young and has a lot of talent. He can be a part of this team’s future. The question will be health. However, his presence does not mean they won’t need to address the cornerback position again.
In the NFL, you need more than one, and as currently constructed, they only have one who can do what Jackson does. Also, the league has turned into a "boom or bust" for corners. Turnovers are the name of the game.
The guys who can take the ball away are more valuable than those who can not.
Turnovers are so critical that if Jackson does not make interceptions, the front office and fan base will begin to long for the days of defensive backs that took the ball away. That could lead them to ultimately move on from Jackson and look to younger, more ball-hawking options.