Do You Believe Kareem Jackson Has Improved?

Patrick D. Starr

This season for the Houston Texans is a season like no other in history. We have a legitimate team that has the talent and ability to be Super Bowl contenders. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. The Texans seemingly have the most balanced team on both sides of the ball. They have pro bowlers at almost every level and they have rising players that will soon be recognized amongst the elite of the game. One player in particular that I have been keeping an eye on is Kareem Jackson. For the last two years, Jackson has been the whipping boy for everything that goes wrong for the Texans. He is now showing signs that those days may be behind him.

When Kareem Jackson came to Houston, he wasn’t highly touted out of college and was sort of unknown. He played in a pro style defense under University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Jackson was always the “other” corner alongside Javier Arenas. Arenas was the spark plug of the defense, a true playmaker, and a do it all kind of player. Jackson was the other cornerback that went about his business quietly and was a solid defender in the top conference in all of college football. He played against the best and competed well but never got the notoriety of his fellow teammate. The year Jackson was drafted, no one really knew about him so people went to YouTube to see all of his highlights. But when they went looking, they found very little if any at all.

When Jackson went to the NFL Combine, he was ranked as the fifth best corner coming out of college by various college analysts. He was behind the likes of more notable cornerbacks in Joe Haden, Devin McCourty and Kyle Wilson. With the 20th overall pick of the 2010 draft, the Texans drafted Jackson with both corners McCourty and Wilson ranked ahead of him and still available. You can imagine the shock amongst Texans fans as all the analysts were saying, “How could the Texans take a guy like Jackson when the other two are still on the board?” Needless to say, Jackson was torched game after game due to lack of long speed, technique issues, untimely slipping, etc... etc...

Now let’s fast forward to this 2012 season. When Johnathan Joseph came here, it gave Jackson a true corner he could sit and learn from opposed to being thrown to the wolves and taught by the school of hard knocks. For a time, I really wanted the Texans to draft a cornerback or bring in a free agent that would allow the Texans to cut Jackson. In my mind, even though I saw some progress it wasn’t enough for me. The preseason started and there was a change in Jackson. He was able to recognize routes, break on balls, things that he never showed he was able to do before. This year, I expect Jackson to be a respectable cornerback and I believe he will earn his first round status. He has had time to mature and, under the tutelage of Johnathan Joseph along with new secondary coach Vance Joseph, he should flourish this year.

In the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kareem Jackson shut down their top receiver in Justin Blackmon and didn’t allow a reception by him or any of the receivers he covered. Granted it was against a subpar quarterback, but all progress by him is a plus. This week versus a better quarterback in Peyton Manning, we will see how much Jackson has progressed. With a good showing this weekend, it will also reveal how far removed he is from the last two seasons. What are your thoughts on Kareem Jackson? Do you believe he’s the Texans corner of the future or will he eventually be replaced?

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