Donte Jackson is one of the most athletic and intriguing cornerback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was taken with the No. 55 pick by the Carolina Panthers.
A long and talented prospect, Jackson anchored LSU’s secondary as a sideline corner and a nickel corner in 2017. As an underclassman, Jackson started and played alongside NFL talents such as Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, New York Jets safety Jamal Adams and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills.
Here are five things you should know about Donte Jackson:
1. Donte Jackson is fast
Billed as the “fastest man in college football” for 2017, Jackson boasted in the pre-draft process that he would break Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross’ record for the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history. Jackson came up short, running his 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds.
Still, Jackson’s speed is worth noting. An SEC champion and the leadoff sprinter for LSU track and field’s 4×100-meter race team, Jackson thrived in two sports during college. His 4.32-second 40-yard dash tied for him the fastest player at the 2018 NFL Combine.
2. Donte Jackson can play football, too
Starting in all 13 of LSU’s games in 2017, Jackson broke up 10 passes, made 49 tackles and came away with 1 interception and 1 sack. For his efforts, Jackson was named second-team All-SEC.
As a sophomore in 2016, Jackson lined up opposite White and snagged 2 interceptions, broke up 8 passes and made 39 tackles.
3. Donte Jackson is versatile
Measuring in at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, Jackson has the ability to move across the secondary. As a junior in 2017, Jackson played half of LSU’s games as a nickelback, shutting down quick and shifty slot receivers over the middle and closing as a tackler; Jackson posted a career-high 9 tackles against Florida in 2017 and added 8 more against Arkansas.
Still, Jackson’s natural position is along the sideline, where he started for most of 2016 and the other half of the 2017 season. Jackson’s prowess as a cover corner was most evident in 2017 against Auburn, when he broke up 4 passes in the fourth quarter, three consecutively, to lead LSU to an upset victory over the SEC West champions.
4. Donte Jackson declared early
Jackson could’ve elected to return for one more year in Baton Rouge, but he decided to forgo his senior season in favor of the NFL. Jackson came to LSU in 2015 alongside fellow early NFL entries Derrius Guice, Arden Key, Toby Weathersby and Kevin Toliver.
Jackson was listed as an athlete coming out of high school, capable of playing cornerback or wide receiver. According to the 247 Sports composite rankings, Jackson was the No. 3 athlete in the nation and the No. 3 prospect in Louisiana behind Guice and wide receiver Tyron Johnson.
5. Donte Jackson is cocky
Don’t read that as an insult. For most of the 2017 season, Jackson’s Twitter bio simply read “cocky.” He knows it. He owns it. Jackson is confident beyond reproach. Anyone who has spent even a minute of time with him would’ve been shocked if Jackson didn’t say he’d run the fastest 40-yard dash in history.
At LSU’s pro day in early April, SEC Country asked Jackson where he ranked among the top defensive backs in the 2018 class. Jackson simply replied, “The best.”
The 2018 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. CT. The second round of the draft is scheduled to resume on Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. CT.