The New England Patriots have arguably the best secondary in the NFL, and a large part of that is thanks to the ridiculous amount of depth at the cornerback position. While Stephon Gilmore (justifiably) gets most of the attention, there are a handful of key role players that don’t get the love they deserve. Last week, the fine folks at Pro Football Focus named cornerback J.C. Jackson the most underrated player on the Patriots.
PFF: J.C. Jackson the Most Underrated Player on New England Patriots
PFF points out J.C. Jackson’s ridiculous ability to cover the deep part of the field as his most impressive trait. According to their tracking numbers, Jackson has been targeted 29 times on passes 20 or more yards downfield. On those 29 targets, he’s allowed just three receptions while intercepting six passes and breaking up another 10. This type of downfield production is simply unparalleled and completely invaluable in today’s pass-heavy NFL.
Jackson initially entered the league as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. While he’s always had the talent to justify a Day 2 pick, character concerns caused his stock to plummet during the draft process. New England took a risk on Jackson, and that gamble immediately paid off. After starting the season on the bench, Jackson steadily worked his way into the lineup and made an immediate impact. During his rookie season, Jackson recorded three interceptions and six broken up passes while helping lead the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl title.
Jackson proved that his impressive rookie season wasn’t a fluke. While splitting outside reps with Jason McCourty, the defensive back recorded five interceptions and 10 passes defended throughout the 16-game campaign. New England’s fantastic depth at cornerback has prevented him from turning into a true household name. However, he’s one of the best young cornerbacks in the league and should receive a sizable payday when he hits restricted free agency.
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