Ever since he put on a show against the Denver Broncos in their game against the Houston Texans last year, I have wanted Kareem Jackson in our secondary. When T.J. Ward, Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, and Aqib Talib left in subsequent years, Talib pointed out how the Broncos had no more “dogs” on defense. Well, Denver got one back with Jackson.
Kareem Jackson is a tough, versatile, and smart defensive back who makes plays from anywhere on the field.
I dug into Jackson’s tape and his strengths he brings to the table when Denver first signed him, here so check it out for a deeper dive.
The short of it is Jackson brings versatility to a secondary that is being built with a bunch of hybrids on the backend.
Chris Harris talked about it when he was re-signed: “We’ve got three guys that can play multiple positions. I don’t know where everyone will be set at. I’m set at left corner right now, but I’m learning the nickel. I’m learning just all the spots that I can. Kareem, he’s pretty much already learned the nickel and safety.”
Jackson has been lining up at safety and nickel so far in camp, and played corner for ten years in Houston so he can line up and make an impact from anywhere on the field.
He is a perfect fit into Fangio’s scheme that values versatility, smarts, and tackling.
took adjusted yards concept (TD worth 20 yards, INT worth -45 yards) from adjusted yards per attempt and applied to coverage snaps. all corners with at least 25 targets last year in adjusted yards per coverage snap @SportsInfo_SIS— charles mcdonald (#1 uzi's extendo verse fan) (@FourVerts) June 21, 2019
not too surprised to see slot corners at the top pic.twitter.com/5CYgT7R01B
Someone created a list of top corners by adjusted yards per coverage snaps (methodology outlined above) and both Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson ranked in the top ten last year.
Really the only potential issue with Jackson is his age, at 31, but the style of football he plays doesn’t seem like he is at risk of dropping off in play, if he stays healthy. I said in my film breakdown that Jackson struggles at times mirroring receivers at the top of their stem, and he’s better off in predominantly zone, as opposed to playing corner in a man-heavy system.
Jackson has been getting rave reviews from coaches and players since he arrived.
Here’s what Justin Simmons had to say about Jackson:
“Kareem has been great. I’m really excited about Kareem, too. He brings great versatility in the back end. Safety, nickel, corner, wherever you need to put him is where he’ll go. A lot of experience. Very similar to a guy like [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.]. I’m excited. It’s been a super easy transition back there. We’ve had some reps back there at safety. Communication has been solid. Like I’ve said, there is always stuff that you can continue to work on and get better at, especially with a new defensive system.”
On what Jackson brings to the safety position
“A bunch of different things. The biggest that he brings is just his knowledge of the game. I think he’s been around football so much and he sees things probably a little bit faster than most guys will being that he plays nickel and corner and closer to the line of scrimmage so that he can see route combinations develop before they even happen. Sometimes he’s jumping plays before the route even develops. On film you’re looking at it, and you’re like what the heck is he doing, but he’s at the right spot at the right time. I’m excited.”
Here is what Bryce Callahan had to say:
“He’s a veteran. He’s been in the game. He’s getting to help the young guys with knowledge and what he’s seeing. He’s also a ball-player. He makes plays on the ball and creates turnovers.”
Ed Donatell has spoken multiple times about the value of Jackson’s versatility in their defense:
“It’s pretty rare. The guy has played a lot of positions in the NFL. He started as a corner, a nickel and a safety. That’s what we like. We just liked the way he played football and we knew we were building this defense. We’ll plug him in where he best suits us.”
Kareem Jackson’s roster status with Broncos
The reports are that Jackson is has been getting most of his looks at safety, but Fangio mentioned that is because he already has a lot of experience at corner and there’s more to learn in this defense at safety, so I’m not sure that it gives us much indication of where he’ll line up on gameday.
I do think we’ll see Jackson, Harris, Callahan on the field together for the majority of the time, with Simmons and Parks filling in the gaps. Where exactly everyone ultimately lines up, we likely won’t know until training camp.
Wherever he ultimately lines up, I’m super excited to see Jackson in orange and blue, and think he is a perfect fit in this defense, and rounds out what is shaping up to be a really talented secondary.