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4 things to know about Jets' undrafted free agent CB Lamar Jackson

May 1, 2020 7:42 am ET

It was expected that Lamar Jackson would be among the players taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the Nebraska cornerback never heard his name called.

The Jets were wise to scoop up Jackson as a priority undrafted free agent. He’s a physical, lengthy cornerback who fits the mold that Gang Green is often looking for. While he may have to always deal with being mistaken for the other Lamar Jackson, he’s got a good shot of making the Jets roster and being a more than serviceable cornerback at the next level.

Let’s get to know him a little bit better.

Not that Lamar Jackson

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(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s not easy to share a name in sports, especially when the person that you share that name with is the reigning NFL MVP. The Jets’ Jackson, however, wasn’t selected in the NFL draft, nor is he a Heisman Trophy winner or star quarterback.

“At first, there was really nothing to it, but of course, as the other Lamar Jackson on his football journey, he became a star,” Jackson told Press Box Online in January. “He won the Heisman. He became who he was. It’s one of those things where I’m just like, ‘The magic might just be in the name.’ He can have all the fame — he’s scoring touchdowns, he’s the quarterback — but for the most part, I’m going to be in the league, too. I’m going to be living just as well.”

 

What he brings to the table

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(Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports)

A three-year starter at Nebraska, Lamar Jackson was one of the Cornhuskers’ most reliable players.

Jackson has rare size for a cornerback, standing at 6-foot-2, 208 pound with length to match. His long arms and big frame can certainly match big-play wide receivers, but the one area that he struggled in at Nebraska was covering vertical speed. Still, Jackson is the type of cornerback the Jets are looking for. New York likes big-press corners who are physical. He’ll fit perfectly into Gregg Williams’ defensive scheme.

 

Defensive MVP

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(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite not getting drafted, Lamar Jackson had a breakout 2019 season, earning second-team All-Big 10 honors, as well as being named Nebraska’s defensive MVP.

In 2019, Jackson recorded 40 tackles, four tackles for loss, three interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He allowed a 55.7 passer rating, which ranked in the 93rd percentile among Division I cornerbacks. In addition, he allowed 5.5 yards per target allowed, which ranked in the 87th percentile.

 

High School Quarterback

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(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Just like the guy on the Baltimore Ravens, Jets cornerback Lamar Jackson played quarterback in high school.

As a dual-threat quarterback, Jackson was able to play both sides of the football efficiently. However, Jackson was viewed as more of a defensive back and was ranked the top safety in the country by Rivals. In addition, Jackson was a consensus top-150 overall prospect in the country, as well as being named one of the top-20 high school football prospects in the state of California.

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You wonder how players like this don't get drafted. Bio and info below shows that he is very good mainly/mostly on the outside which we and a lot of other teams need, and has a 4.58 forty, which when you are 6 foot 2 inches at 208 lbs for a CB is not that slow. 

https://thedraftnetwork.com/player/lamar-jackson/N4kKEhr8lk

  • Jets signed Nebraska CB Lamar Jackson. 

    Jackson (6'2/208) peaked as a senior with a Big 10-high 15 passes defended, finishing 12th in the nation with 1.3 pass breakups per game. His salivating length (32 1/4") will entice multiple front offices at the next level — Jackson scraps as if he's bigger than his opponent, no matter their size — but his red flags include getting benched at various times throughout his career for run-ins with numerous coaches; for what it's worth, Nebraska's staff claims Jackson showed better focus as a senior following the birth of his son. 

    Apr 26, 2020, 3:33 PM ET
     
  • NFL Media's Lance Zierlein writes Nebraska CB Lamar Jackson has "rare cornerback size with length to match."

    As far as looking the part goes, Jackson is a stud. At 6-foot-2 and 208-pounds, Jackson has the length and bulk to be able to keep up with some of the league's bigger and tougher wide receivers. However, Zierlein notes Jackson's "instincts and overall awareness are a concern." Additionally, Jackson is not the fastest CB (he ran a 4.58 second 40-yard dash) and has a tendency to get grabby as soon as he starts to get beat. Jackson will need to find ways to slow down WRs early in the play in order to earn himself regular snaps in the NFL.

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Apparently he is very raw. Doesn't have a true position and did not run a stellar 40. Those are the reasons he was not drafted. The Jets got a project outside CB (maybe S?) who has great size and upside for a specific system/role. I don't know if he could possibly ever develop into an every down shut down type CB because he simply doesn't have the speed for it. His ceiling is not that high, IMO. I don't think we are looking at a potential starter here if I'm being honest. 

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