Jackson flashed as an undrafted rookie to become a key piece of the Patriots defense
The Patriots have arguably the best secondary in football as we look ahead to the 2020 season. Stephon Gilmore is coming off an incredible year, winning Defensive Player Of The Year honors last season. J.C. Jackson was on the bubble for a roster spot in 2018 during training camp. Then the preseason started and he was impossible to ignore. As Jackson continued to impress making big time plays, it looked like Belichick found another diamond in the rough.
Jackson’s impressive preseason earned him a well deserved spot on the Patriots roster. The timing was perfect for the Pats with the departure of Malcolm Butler.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS FROM NFL EXPERTS
As Jackson enters his third year in the NFL he has a chance to become a star outside of the New England area. The sky is the limit for the undrafted free agent. He has improved game by game since 2018, and it helps playing alongside Gilmore and McCourty.
Based on statistics from Pro Football Focus, Jackson is the best CB in man coverage. Ranked Number 1, his teammates Gilmore and McCourty followed behind at second and third. Bill Belichick has found a superstar in the making. The numbers from last year are ridiculous: a league best five INTs, allowing just 19 catches on 46 targets for 181 yards and zero TD’s. He was the best in opposing QBR of 13.3, and was second in positive play rate in man coverage.
Pro Football Focus has the young CB only allowing three receptions on targets 20 yards downfield with six interceptions. Jackson during that same time has allowed the lowest passer rating (48.7) all in his first two seasons.
Patriot fans were livid when Butler left for Tennessee, but once again Belichick finds another talented undrafted free agent for a fraction of the salary. Jackson who had an impressive rookie season only got better last year, there was no sophomore slump. While there is always a chance a player regresses I only see his arrow pointing straight up.
New England likes to take chances and they hit it out of the park with this guy. NFL scouts across the league knew Jackson was at least a Day 2 draft pick, but character concerns scared teams off. Belichick knew the risk was worth the reward, and since joining the Pats J.C. has been great on and off the field.
J.C. Jackson helped the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl in his first year, then became a dominant ball hawk in his second, that is why he is my player to watch in 2020.
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