20 Under 25 candidates: J.C. Jackson went from undrafted rookie to starting corner in just six months


It took only about six months. J.C. Jackson went from being undrafted in the spring to starting as a boundary corner opposite Stephon Gilmore. In Week 13, he helped shut down the high-powered Vikings passing game.

At 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, Jackson has the size to match up with bigger receivers on the outside and his playing style makes him a good match for receivers who may be susceptible to lapses when their timing is thrown off. Jackson is a physical defensive back, unafraid to use his hands at the line of scrimmage or down the field -- which in his rookie season has made him one of the team's most disruptive corners and one of its most penalized. 

Those sorts of up-and-down results -- four penalties (behind only Gilmore despite playing just 185 snaps) and two picks -- have a chance to shift in a more positive direction as Jackson learns the ropes of the pro game. He clearly has some enticing tools to work with that go well with his size and aggressiveness. 

"He locates the ball as good as anybody I've seen that we've had at corner," Devin McCourty said.

Jackson's road as a collegian helped him go unclaimed in the draft. He was dismissed from the University of Florida in 2015 after being charged with four first-degree felonies stemming from an armed robbery of a home. He was later found not guilty and spent a season at Riverside Community College. He then transferred to Maryland where he earned an All-Conference honorable mention in his second season.

Since landing in New England, he's made the most of his opportunities and has flashed high-end starter potential if he can continue to refine some of his technique. He's already shown he can add significant value to a Patriots defense that values size, ball skills and sticky man-to-man coverage on the outside.

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