With the draft a little over a week away, we will soon find out who the newest members of the San Francisco 49ers will be. Currently, the 49ers have the number nine overall pick in the first round of the draft. You can make an argument about a number of ways the 49ers can go with this selection, including trading back in the round. The 49ers, after all, still have multiple pressing needs on both sides of the ball.
One area of need on the roster is cornerback. The team made a big move in free agency signing longtime rival and Pro Bowler Richard Sherman. This was an exciting move by the team, and brings a veteran talent and presence to a young secondary. However, Sherman is 30, and is coming off major Achilles surgery. Even with Sherman, the team would be wise to continue to add young talent to a growing and exciting secondary that includes Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tart, and Adrian Colbert.
Today, we will focus on cornerback Joshua Jackson. Jackson played football at the University of Iowa. Jackson is one of the most physical and talented cornerbacks this draft class has to offer. While his three-interception performance against Ohio State might have put him on the map, his talent and skillset was evident long before that. Jackson’s skillset and football instincts seem like a nice fit in Robert Saleh’s defense. Let’s now take a closer look as to why Jackson is a day one lock in the NFL Draft.
Name: Josh Jackson
Weight: 192 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.56
Bench Press: 18 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.0
Broad Jump: 123.0
3 Cone Drill: 6.86 seconds
20 yard shuttle: 4.03 seconds.
During the 2017 season Josh Jackson had 8 interceptions, with 18 passes broken up and 48 total tackles. Made a play on 25.7 percent of his targets. 41.3 percent completion rate.
- Has excellent length, with the height and arms to play the position.
- Strong football instincts, and anticipates where the play is going to occur.
- Keeps his focus on the ball and doesn’t get caught up following the opponent.
- Ballhawk, and strong interception rate throughout the season.
- Has demonstrated the ability to isolate the receiver.
- Plays a physical brand of football. Will find ways to knock the receiver off their route.
- Plays stronger as the game grows longer.
- “Big Play” & “Bright-Lights” player who can change the momentum of the game.
- Very coachable and hard worker who wants to get better.
- Ideal frame and size that will transition with ease at the next level.
- Only started one full year at Iowa.
- Does not have tremendous burst and speed, and at times will get caught behind a receiver on their route.
- Will anticipate too quickly at times and will need to develop more patience at the line of scrimmage.
- At times during the season his tackling was inconsistent and not clean. Will need to work on wrapping up his opponent quickly.
I believe that Jackson is not only the best cornerback in this draft class but a great fit in the 49ers defense. Jackson has great size and length for the position, and his athleticism and physical nature will transition well at the next level. His arm length and wingspan give Jackson the ability to get his hands on the football to break up plays and even create turnovers. Jackson has impressive versatility all over the field, and has demonstrated the ability to defend the short, intermediate, and deep routes. Watching his tape, Jackson demonstrated time and time again his ability to knock a receiver off of his route, and make a play on the ball.
His play against Ohio State truly put his name on the map with 3 interceptions. He makes his presence known against the run as well, and will fight through blocks. On tape, Jackson was utilized on multiple occasions in blitz packages, and has the speed and instincts to put pressure on the passer.
Some concerns I see with Jackson include his inconsistent ability to run fluidly through his hips. While he can cover deep routes, he had some difficulties at time going pace-for-pace with the more speedy receivers. As he transitions to the next level, Jackson needs to continue to work on his balance, and run more fluidly through his hips. However, his body of work this season make him perhaps the best cornerback option this draft class has to offer. On numerous occasions this season Jackson provided positive momentum shifts for his team, whether it was breaking up a crucial pass, turnover, or pick-six. Be sure to take some time to watch his tape…Jackson should get you really excited as a potential number one corner.
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Is Jackson a fit for the 49ers? I believe he is the best cornerback option for the type of defense the 49ers deploy. In all likelihood Jackson will be available when the 49ers are on the clock. In fact, the 49ers may even be able to trade back (If they can) a few spots, net some draft capital and still select Jackson. However, there are other pressing issues at the moment, cornering Rueben Foster, and perhaps linebacker is becoming the number one priority for the team. Jackson is a day one lock, and should the 49ers go linebacker the Iowa product will most definitely not drop to their second round pick. However, if cornerback is at the top of the list, then I believe Jackson is their best option. Jackson would be a fantastic for the 49ers and the defense they are building.
What are YOUR thoughts on Josh Jackson? Is Jackson is the best cornerback in the draft? Do you see Jackson as a great fit in the 49ers defense? Please share in the comments below!