Kareem Jackson, Cornerback, Alabama
Height and weight: 5-10 & 196 pounds
Jackson spent the last three seasons at Alabama and declared for the draft as a junior despite recommendations from head coach Nick Saban to stay. Although some may think he may have left too early, the reasons were minimal. Jackson was a three year starter at Alabama, totaling 159 tackles, 34 passes defensed, five interceptions and two blocked kicks. Jackson didn't return punts or kick offs on special teams but he was very reliable, starting all but one of 41 career games.
Projected Round: 2nd
Jackson has very good instincts and can read a play just by looking at the wide receivers body position and formation along the offensive line. He'll tend to keep one eye on the quarterback while in stride with the receiver, anticipating where the ball will end up. Point being - Jackson loves to attack the ball. He has a good initial jam off of the line of scrimmage and likes to play very physical with receivers. He'll leave a small window for quarterbacks to throw to, making it hard for him to get caught out of position. He's fluid in zone coverage and likes to bait quarterbacks into throwing his way, often disrupting the pass before it reaches the receiver. Jackson proved that speed may not be an issue when he ran a 4.40 forty-yard dash at the combine, giving him the ideal combination of speed and strength to make it in the NFL. Out of the top five corners in the draft, Jackson held the top forty speed. He's a fierce tackler for a corner, and will not shy away from contract, even against bigger ball carriers. Jackson is extremely competitive and devotes hours of time in the film room.
Jackson has spent much of his time leading up to the draft proving to scouts that he does have next levelspeed. It may be too soon for him and most mock drafts project him landing in the 2nd round. Other then speed, Jackson's biggest strength - physical nature - could also be a problem in the NFL. The Rules are different in college and some believe draping on receivers as Jackson often does, could be a problem. He does need to work on his zone coverage and footwork dropping back. He's a bit raw and may need some fine tuning under the tutelage of a defensive backs coach if Jackson wants to see playing time immediately. He's not a punt or kick returner - limiting what he can bring to a team as a rookie.
Jackson's not the biggest or most explosive cornerback coming out of the draft, but he's a team player and will spend an ample amount of time learning as a rookie. He's also extremely well rounded and would be a solid addition to any secondary. If he can improve the biggest aspect of his game that is lacking - speed - then he will be somebody in the NFL.
His game is built on physicality and as long as he can adjust to the strict rules of the NFL, he would bring the style that Bryant McFadden was supposed to bring when he was signed last offseason. The Cardinals are also desperately in need of a cornerback to start along side Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie next season, and if they could land Jackson in the 2nd round, it would be a steal. Take this as a sign as well - Kareem Jackson has been working with defensive back's coach Donnie Henderson during the offseason - the same coach that pulled for the Kerry Rhodes trade. Could he pull for Jackson in the draft? What are your thoughts on Jackson?