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J.C. Jackson Tabbed as NFL's No. 5 Cornerback in ESPN Rankings


The Chargers were more than happy to add J.C. Jackson to their roster this offseason.

After all, the free-agent addition is one of the league's best players at his position. 

Jackson was recently tabbed in the No. 5 slot on ESPN's list of the best cornerbacks across the league.

The rankings were compiled by Jeremy Fowler, who spoke with 50 coaches, players, scouts and front office executives.

Fowler wrote:

Jackson most closely channels [Miami's Xavien] Howard as a true ball hawk, hauling in 17 interceptions in his past 33 games. That production earned him a massive five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Chargers in free agency this year.

Opposing quarterbacks averaged a 48.4 passer rating when throwing toward Jackson, who gave up 627 yards on 96 targets (50 receptions), per NFL Next Gen Stats. One AFC defensive coach said a recent All-Pro corner told him Jackson has the best ball skills he has ever seen.

"A lot of corners can track the football, but not many can catch the flash of the football," the coach said. "Now all of a sudden, the PBU [pass breakup] a good player makes, he picks that. He's one of a few that can do it consistently."

Jackson's 23 passes defended led all defensive players in 2021, and only Dallas' Trevon Diggs (11) had more interceptions than his eight.

Jackson signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and spent the first four seasons of his career with New England.

But the shutdown corner switched teams and moved across the country in March as he signed a multi-year deal with the Bolts to be the team's top cornerback.

As Fowler stated above, Jackson has a nose for the ball, with 25 career interceptions through four seasons in the league.

And Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill said this offseason that Jackson's presence will elevate the entire cornerback room.

"It makes these guys really come out here and perform and know that we do have options. I think that's the way the game should be. There shouldn't be any lax mindset within any room," Hill said. "The better that we can do evaluating and getting the right guys in here, I just think it can make our team much stronger.

"When we do have those injuries, no one is sweating thinking about who is going to line up there," Hill added. "We know we have a guy that's really capable and we can play everything within our system."

Jackson was the second AFC cornerback listed behind Howard, and was one of two AFC West players included in the rankings. Denver's Patrick Surtain II was ranked seventh overall.

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