Because most rookies don’t get enough credit, we’ll be highlighting some top performances by the NFL’s next generation.
Defense: Week 12
Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers may be slumping a little as the weather turns colder, but there’s still a lot to like in the Carolina locker room. Their first-round selection, wide receiver D.J. Moore is making some waves and is already the team’s second-leading receiver, but I want to shine a spotlight on their second-round pick, cornerback Donte Jackson out of L.S.U. Jackson possesses something rare, true track speed, stopping the combine clocks at 4.32 for the forty, tied for the fastest time at the combine. While he has a slight build, and will be learning stronger technique on the job, Jackson is an outstanding developmental piece for the Carolina secondary. His ability to close on receivers and negate gaps in open space is already obvious at the NFL level, and he’s already had a rookie-best 11 passes defended and four interceptions, plus a forced fumble thus far this season. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks a game open by bringing one back to the house in a key situation. He’s got the speed to catch opponents from behind to save touchdowns as well as stick with the league’s fastest vertical receiving threats. We’ll test that theory, as Carolina will face New Orleans twice in the final three weeks with a wild card spot likely on the line.
Image Source: USA Today