The Carolina Panthers drafted cornerback Donte Jackson in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. Carolina selected Jackson with the 55th overall pick to bring some speed and swagger to their secondary. In fact, ever since he arrived to Carolina, Jackson has done nothing but improve and make his mark. It all started with rookie camp and finished with his training camp. The rookie even able to take some of the veterans by surprised with how quickly he has been able to make the transition from college to the pros.
This past Monday veteran receiver Torrey Smith was asked who impressed him the most this offseason. You know who he said? Well, besides Luke Kuechly (Obviously), Jackson was his first answer. “Besides Luke (Kuechly)? Donte Jackson,” he told the Panthers’ website. “I’ve never seen a player grow more in a single offseason. He’s playing well, playing very confident. He’s been coachable.”
The former LSU product has wasted no time making his presence known in the NFL. And for good reason. Jackson’s ability to talk trash and recover quickly with the help of his lightning speed are some of the reasons the Panthers were so high on the rookie. It seems like each day in camp the rookie only gets more comfortable wearing the black and blue. This offseason Jackson has gotten nothing but quality reps. In practice he’s matched up against No. 1 receiver Devin Funchess and first-round pick D.J. Moore nicely, making play after play. Especially of late, Jackson has come into his own. He had several pass breakups and interceptions, including one on Sunday that was one of the best plays of Panthers training camp.
Jackson picked off QB Cam Newton in the end zone and took it all the way to the house for six, hyping up himself and the crowd in the process. Right after, he grabbed a towel out of his back pocket and placed it neatly over one arm, and held the ball up primly as if it were a platter, in a five-star restaurant. It took the crowd by storm and even blew up a bit on social media.
These are the types of things the Panthers have to look at when deciding who their No. 2 cornerback will be once the season kicks off. The way he has been playing, Jackson could very well end up being that guy, lining up opposite of starting cornerback James Bradberry. Remember, earlier this month, the Panthers took two hits to their secondary including their free agent signing of cornerback Ross Cockrell, who is reported to miss the entire season. If Jackson has improved so much since joining the team and even impressed some of the veterans then maybe just maybe he can snag that No. 2 spot. Overall, his tenacity could be exactly what the Panthers need in their starting secondary. Perhaps, Jackson could be Carolina’s secret weapon as they head into the 2018 season.