In 2010 the Texans picked Kareem Jackson at #20 in the first round of the draft. He was a fairly well touted cornerback whose college career showed he had promise to be a good player in the NFL. And for two years he struggled mightily to earn the fans respect with poor coverage and questionable judgment. But with the help of Jonathon Joseph and the tutelage of Wade Phillips, fans started to believe.
By the merciful end of last season, Jackson showed he had come into his own. Hard nosed plays and generally good coverage meant that while dismal though the season was there was hope. Jackson has played the outside corner spot since his arrival but there has been sightings of him practicing at inside slot corner. This plays to his physical skills against the run and leaves faster players to cover the deep routes, a weak spot in his play.
Why we believe:
The Texans are on a mission to prove that they are a rising force not a broken team. Jackson has improved every year he’s been in the league and expectations are high on him to deliver another solid year. With Romeo Crennel now taking over duties as Defensive Coordinator and a more complex defense on the field the Texans have the tools to be amazing. Jackson along with a healthy Jonathon Joseph weigh heavily into the mix. With a better pass rush and more formations designed to confuse the offense there is every chance for Jackson to shine.
Why we worry:
Jackson started out his tenure for the Texans with several sub-par seasons leaving many fans to lament the ease at which it seemed Jackson was beaten on long passes and deep routes. By the time he really started to shine the team collapsed. While he’s trying to show versatility by moving inside, at least as far as OTA’s go, can he handle the added work? Will he adapt not just to a new position but more complex defense that will rely on every player to handle their area of responsibility? His recent play says he is up to the task, but there are lingering doubts. Several times last season he was penalized for mental mistakes, that cannot continue.
Overall, Jackson has the potential to be a “shutdown corner”. But he’s made enough mistakes that teams will at least early in the season, test him. I believe he’s going to have one heck of a 2014 and put to rest any linger doubts about his ability to play.
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