A 6’1” 185lb. Junior cornerback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Joshua Jackson was a three-star recruit coming out of Lake Valley, Texas. Jackson was a non- factor for the first two years of his career, having only received one start. In his only year as a full-time starter, Jackson earned consensus All-America honors, along with being a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson led the nation with eight interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He also led the nation with 18 pass breakups.
Throughout Jackson’s tenure at Iowa, the Hawkeyes predominantly played zone. I’ve seen Jackson continually show great instincts, excelling at reading the quarterback and receiver to make plays on the ball. Jackson’s body control is one of his biggest strengths as he rarely “opens the gate,” demonstrating his ability to stay square, keep his feet calm, and react quickly and smoothly. In coverage, he shows excellent balance and doesn’t get shaken by receivers at the line. Instead, he demonstrates patience, and waits for the receiver to make a threatening move up field before beginning to open up. He then knows to squeeze to the receiver and make a play on the ball.After studying Jackson and watching him run, he doesn’t look like a guy with excellent speed, but he does show the ability to break on a ball quickly and precisely. Jackson also has prototypical size at 6’1” 185 which suggests he has the size needed to challenge bigger receivers.
A one-year starter, there simply isn’t enough film to tell if Jackson isn’t just a one-year wonder. He will need to continue to prove to teams that his success is sustainable. One of the issues I have with Jackson’s game is his tackling and physicality. Right now, he is just too inconsistent a tackler for the NFL. When Jackson tackles, he mostly attempts to go below the waist and cut down the ball carrier, sometimes whiffing completely. I’d like to see him refine his technique and wrap up more when the situation warrants it. He also struggles at times to shrug off blocks. A question I have on Jackson is his long speed. While he isn’t slow, he doesn’t come across as a burner, either. I am not sold on his press technique yet as I haven’t seen him be aggressive at the line in the six games I studied. By not challenging receivers at the line, he is negating the advantage his 6’1” frame provides him. In the NFL, he will need to be able to change up his techniques as pro receivers are too good, and will start to feast if he becomes predictable.
Jackson is a solid prospect that demonstrates the needed traits to be a successful NFL player. While he isn’t necessarily a speed demon, he understands how to play both man and zone concepts well and has excellent instincts. Jackson is able to make good use of his length and ball skills by rarely allowing deep passes to be completed. He will need to shore up his tackling and effort level on run plays and learn to take advantage of his size and length but the good outweighs the bad in his instance. Jackson is a first-round talent that will sell teams on his length, smooth feet, ability to burst out of breaks, coverage skills in both man and zone, and the instincts he displayed at Iowa.If Jackson can improve on his tackling and physicality, he has the potential to develop into an upper echelon corner.