New England Patriots

New England Patriots defensive backs J.C. Jackson (27) performs a field drill during an NFL football training camp practice, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

By Alex Barth,

The tradition of UDFA cornerbacks is strong in New England. Like Kyle Arrington, Justin Coleman, and Malcolm Butler before him, J.C. Jackson has gone from a relative unknown to one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.

Don’t think he’s not aware of his status, either.

“I can cover anything man,” Jackson told reporters on Monday. “Like getting out on an island. Intermediate routes, deep balls, I just got a lot more deep balls last year and in my first year, and I just took advantage of my opportunities when it came my way. But I can cover anything.”

While that may seem like a boisterous claim, Jackson does have the numbers to back him up. According to PFF, nobody in the league has allowed completions at a lower rate than Jackson since 2017. The Maryland product is one of only two players with an opposing completion percentage under 50, the other being 2018 fourth-overall pick Denzel Ward.

Jackson has proven to be the perfect compliment to play opposite Stephon Gilmore, who tracks third on the previous list at 50-percent. It’s no coincidence to see Jackson put up similar numbers to his counterpart – the 24-year old says he’s constantly leaning on the veteran as an example of how to play the game.

“Stephon Gilmore has a lot of knowledge, he’s been a league for almost, what, eight, nine years,” Jackson said. “I mean, he’s great at what he does. And I just try to pick up little things, little things off of his game, and try to put it into my game. Sometimes I ask him a few questions. He’ll give me an answer. Knowledge is power. So, getting something from him will help me out big time on my game.”

Due for an expanded role in 2020, Jackson will need all the help he can get. The Patriots schedule will take them through some of the best passing teams in the league, leaving No. 27 as a must-watch week in and week out.

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There’s personal motivation for Jackson as well. He is set to be a restricted free agent after the season, although he admitted he’s not too worried about that right now.

“That’s something the coaches deal with,” he said Monday. “I don’t control when I get a contract extension. I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m focused on getting better and getting prepared for the first game, the first opener.”

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at