Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft profile: Cornerback, Donte Jackson
Brent Grimes returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2018 NFL Season, and Vernon Hargreaves III showed promise before succumbing to injury in 2017. Beyond this, the team still needs to add to a very thin cornerback group.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take the field for the first time in 2018 there is an expectation that they’ll have at least one rookie cornerback in the mix. And I’m not talking about a rookie camp invite guy who we all know is never making the roster.
I mean guys like Donte Jackson. LSU’s second-team All SEC speed defender who can work the outside or the inside and brings some special teams intrigue to the table as well.
Jackson’s College Career
Spending three years in Baton Rouge, Jackson played in 12 games during both his freshman and sophomore seasons while playing in 11 in 2017.
For his career, the cornerback intercepted opposing quarterbacks four times, recovered one fumble and has 110 tackles to his name including 82 solo tackles.
In both 2016 and 2017 he was Top-10 among SEC defenders in passes defended as well according to Sports Reference.
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Some may be surprised he came out following his junior season and may look at his stats as reasoning for the surprise. However, when a corner gets thrown at just three times during his team’s bowl game, it’s apparent the rest of college football has recognized his abilities as a next level type defender.
So, why not take your game to the next level?
Skilled coverage player who came from a man-to-man system and plays with aggression.
He fits most with what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster needs because he can play either outside corner position as well as inside.
Jackson is also a willing participant in run defense and isn’t afraid to get mixed up in the scrum when the situation calls for it.
Has underrated football smarts. While he’s rangy and athletic, he also has solid field awareness and knows how to keep up with developing plays while staying with his assignment or maintaining his contain responsibilities on the opposite sides of runs.
He’s small. At the NFL Scouting Combine he weighed in at 178 lbs and reaches just 5’10” in height.
While he’s willing to try and tackle, he goes low just about every time. By this, I mean he went low every time I saw him tackle, but I haven’t watched every game he’s played so I can’t say he never bodies a ball carrier.
He doesn’t appear to have the best tracking skills when it comes to finding the ball in the air. He’s going to win most plays because of his athleticism and aggressiveness. These will lead to passes defended rather than interceptions until he develops better ball skills.
Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need Donte Jackson
Simply put, he’s better than anyone behind Grimes and Hargreaves right now. Ryan Smith has potential and a future in the NFL, don’t get me wrong. But, Jackson is better than Smith is now.
If I’m right about my assessment of him, he’s going to listen to coaches and his teammates and he has two really good ones to learn from.
Believe it or not, all the noise surrounding VHIII and his performance – or lack thereof – will be valuable to a guy like Jackson. Grimes’ cerebral play is the exact example Jackson needs around him to combine his athleticism and brain power the best.
Bottom line is, if not by the beginning of the regular season, Jackson could come in and become a starter opposite of Grimes by the team’s bye week.
Will It Happen?
Well, no, probably not. He’s not going to be on the board high enough to warrant a second-round pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their current spot.
He may be there when the team’s third round pick comes up, but that’s been traded to New York in the Jason Pierre-Paul deal.
So, unless Jason Licht trades back into the third round, it’s not likely Jackson will be available when the Bucs draft for the first time on day three.
Last year the guy I wanted to see with the team the most was Chris Godwin. This year, it’s Donte Jackson.
Next: Glazers Made the Right Move
It’d be nice to see him in pewter this year, but it may not happen. What do you guys think of him? Is he worthy of trading back into the third round for?
Give me your thoughts on Donte Jackson and catch all of our draft profiles as we log one player per day until the beginning of the 2018 NFL Draft!