Adoree’ Jackson feels blessed and reassured.
The Tennessee Titans picked up the cornerback’s fifth-year option in April, ensuring that he will be in Nashville through at least 2021.
The 18th overall pick in 2017, Jackson was one of two first-round choices eligible for the fifth-year optionbut the only one who got it. Wide receiver Corey Davis, the fifth overall selection, is on track for free agency next year after franchise officials declined to do the same for him.
“Picked up or not, we just talked about it going to be all gas, no brakes,” Jackson said Friday on a video conference. “That’s always been our mentality. If I talk to Corey or you ask him the same thing, it’s always been about how can we get better and how we can try to be the best we can be and try to be a staple in Nashville.”
Jackson has become exactly that.
The East St. Louis, Ill. native has started 39 games, fifth among those at his position who were drafted that season. Jackson also leads that group with 167 solo tackles and is fifth in passes defended with 33.
At USC, the two-sport athlete (he also competed in track and field) was something of a triple threat. In addition to defense, he also contributed on offense and special teams for the Trojans.
So far Jackson has intercepted only two passes in three NFL seasons, and he lost his job as punt returner after a shaky performance in a Week 3 loss to Jacksonville last season.
While he hasn’t always lived up to expectations, keeping him on the roster for at least two more years helps lessen the impact veteran Logan Ryan’s free agency departure. Jackson, who saw his playing time on defense decrease last season, could split time between the outside and nickel cornerback positions in 2020.
“When you’re playing corner you pretty much have to worry about yourself in those aspects, and playing the nickel is a lot of different assignments and alignments and techniques that come into play,” Jackson said. “Being able to go in these virtual meetings and listen in and see the picture, and the virtual classroom and things that we do to help get a better understanding and knowledge of the role and position, just in case I’m needed.”
Safety Kenney Vaccaro knows what it’s like to be Jackson.
The New Orleans Saints picked up fifth-year option for Vaccaro, a first-round choice in 2013, following his third season. From here, he believes, anything is possible.
“Everybody has a different next step, you know?” Vaccaro said. “Some people will go from starter to Pro Bowler, or some guys go from backup to starter, or practice squad to being active. That’s up to him. He has his own plan for himself, he knows what he wants to do. I know Adoree’.
“I know he’s motivated. He loves football, he cares. I love playing with him, I love playing next to him. He’s a really smart player.”
Jackson agreed and declined to make any predictions for himself. Instead, he expects his effort will speak for him.
“Just keep doing the work, everyday improve and get better,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t stop, it doesn’t change. Nothing does. Just got to keep grinding and keep working and doing what you’re supposed to do out there.”
It is an approach that convinced the Titans to keep him right where he is an extra year.
“I was thankful when I got the call from (general manager Jon Robinson),” Jackson said. “I talked to him. That was my first feeling, I was just excited, just smiling and happy. I love being a part of the Titans and being able to play in not just a great city, but with great people and great players.”