USC junior Adoree’ Jackson entered this season looking to prove that he is not just a track star playing football, but a football player who also excels as a track athlete. The multi-sport, highly athletic Jackson has been a star for the Trojans both on and off the football field. Jackson has made all Pac-12 first teams as both a defender and returner. Off the field Jackson is also a highly decorated track star, and an All-American.
As a freshman in 2013, Jackson, the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, started a game against Notre Dame at both wide receiver and cornerback.
While a three-year starter at cornerback, Jackson has also made an impact on all three phases of the Trojans’ football team. In his career he has managed to score a touchdown via reception, interception return, punt return, and kick-off return.
Last season he was the only player in the nation with a least 400 receiving yards, 600 kickoff return yards, 200 hundred punt return yards, and 30 tackles – while also leading the Pac-12 in punt return touchdowns.
As a defender Jackson is a fluid athlete who possesses quick feet with the ability to quickly open up his hips turn and run with a receiver off the line of scrimmage. With his speed and athleticism, he is able to mirror receivers downfield as he can quickly change directions and accelerate instantaneously. His time spent as a wide receiver show up at corner when he is able to go up and high-point the ball for an interception. He also displays good awareness while in coverage along with the aforementioned speed that allows him to quickly recover if he is beaten off the line of scrimmage.
As a run defender, Jackson is competitive and will attempt to run down a ball carrier no matter where he is at on the field. He is willing to come up, hand fight blockers, and go for the ball carrier.
When it comes to his abilities as a receiver and returner, Jackson is extremely dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands. He is effective in catching quick hitting pass plays like bubble, and smoke screens and quickly turning it up field utilizing his instincts, explosiveness, and elusiveness — similar to the way they are used during his returns.
What’s concerning when scouting Jackson is the inconsistencies in his technique both at the line of scrimmage as well as downfield. Jackson will get caught peeking into the backfield a bit longer than he should, as a receiver would run by him, which resulted in him allowing big plays to develop downfield. Jackson also appears to favor playing the receiver, and does not look back to locate the ball, which would lead to long completions or Jackson drawing a penalty.
He is also not effective at jamming or playing press coverage and is unable to re-route receivers at the snap of the ball. Instead, allowing the receiver to get a free release and relying on his speed — gambling that he would be able to make up ground quickly. Which brings into question whether Jackson would be able to cover receivers on the outside in the NFL or if he would best suited as a nickel or slot corner where he would utilize his foot speed and quickness in a more confined area of the field.
There is no question that Jackson has the athleticism and play making ability to find a spot on a roster in the NFL. He is a gifted athlete who could help a team in a number of different roles. The added dimension he provides as a returner both on kickoffs and punt returns will be valued. He has stated that he will limit some of snaps on offense this season to concentrate on his play as a cornerback. This should hopefully help him clean-up some of his technique issues which should help enhance his chances at playing defensive back at the next level.
However, as of today, Jackson has to be viewed more as a talented athlete with terrific return skills who is still developing as a cornerback.