The New England Patriots already have the NFL's best cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, and one of his teammates is quickly becoming a star at the position.
J.C. Jackson was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and it's turned out to be one of the team's best moves of the last few years.
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The 24-year-old cornerback has been excellent in coverage, and he's played a key role in the Patriots having one of the league's best secondaries over his two years in New England.
Jackson tallied three interceptions for the Patriots as a rookie in 2018, and he improved last season with five interceptions, which ranked tied for the second-most in the league. In fact, throwing at Jackson deep down the field has been a very bad decision for opposing quarterbacks since he entered the league, as evidenced by the Pro Football Focus stats in the tweet below.
J.C. Jackson when targeted 20+ yards downfield in coverage 2018-2019— PFF (@PFF) May 20, 2020
Receptions allowed: 3 pic.twitter.com/SSrv20UJBy
That's pretty impressive.
The Patriots had one of the league's top pass defenses in 2019. This unit ranked No. 2 in pass yards allowed, No. 1 in opposing QB rating, No. 1 in interceptions, No. 1 in opposing completion percentage and No. 1 in fewest pass touchdowns allowed.
New England's defense will need to be stellar again in 2020 if the offense takes a step back, and that's certainly possible after longtime starting quarterback Tom Brady left the team as a free agent in March. Jackson will be a huge part of the Patriots' effort to be dominant on the defensive side of the ball next season.