I’ve had to battle a bit with these two.
USC’s Adoree’ Jackson is arguably the most athletic player in college football — but until recently he was the guy with major potential rather than someone who mastered his craft at a set position.
His instinct, technique and recognition skills have long appeared to be a work in progress. When he can just show off his extreme speed and twitchy athleticism — he looks incredible. That’s what you see when he returns kicks and he can just fly — he averaged 30.5 yards on kick-offs in 2016 (scoring twice) and managed 302 punt yards (with a further score).
I’ve been reluctant to grade him much higher than a second rounder with potential to get into the first frame — but he had four interceptions at cornerback this year and I wanted to go back and review his play towards the end of the season.
Jackson has certainly made improvements in terms of recognition and there were a couple of plays where he mirrored the receiver perfectly and was in position to play the ball almost as the intended receiver. His elite speed and recovery ability frequently put him in position to make a play on the ball. He can go deep and cover a guy like John Ross, but he was also exceptional at covering ground quickly even when he lost initial leverage.
There were clear improvements compared to his 2015 tape and the early 2016 stuff. In terms of pure potential and upside — he’s right up there. His size (5-11, 185lbs) might prevent him from going too early but he’s a candidate for round one. No doubt about that.
He might actually suit a switch to safety where he can play deep, read the play and react. His closing speed is special and he’ll cover ground very quickly. You’re also putting him in space where he can really show off his athleticism. At corner there’s a chance he’ll get manhandled at the line or overpowered playing the ball. At safety you’re probably maxing out his athleticism and range.
Alternatively he could be a full-time slot corner (an important position these days) or a bit of a jack-of-all-trades (slot, outside corner, FS, some offense). However you’d have to be a good team drafting him in round one to justify taking a ‘Mr. Versatile’.
One thing is for sure — he can have an immediate impact on special teams. Jackson truly is one of the best returners you’ll ever see. He glides — and somehow manages to turn any kind of kick into a big return. He will dictate game plans and win you field position because teams will waste time during the week working out how to avoid kicking him the ball.
His personality is warm and engaging too. He was a captain at USC this year and this video featuring his mother is just great:
We’ve talked about Seattle’s needs and a cornerback isn’t really a high priority. The Seahawks have also avoided early picks at corner and let’s be honest — is that really likely to change any time soon?
That said, they also love love love special athletes with limitless upside. Jackson has that in his locker. The Seahawks love to get their hands on extreme potential and coach it up. If they see a DB with exceptional, unique upside and grit — they’ll be interested. It’s very easy to imagine Adoree’ Jackson being on their radar — especially with his major flair for special teams.
So while the chances might be slim that he lands in Seattle, you just never know. It’ll be really fun to watch him at the combine (assuming he declares).
Speaking of the combine, there are few players I want to see perform more than Texas running back D’Onta Foreman.
The more I watch, the more I want to buy into him. I’m sceptical that he’s the listed 249lbs. He’s probably more like 235-240lbs. Yet his lateral ability and suddenness at that size is impressive. And while he’s faced a collection of truly horrendous defenses this year — it’s still not easy for guys his size to run away from defensive backs (which he does quite regularly).
It’s the opponents he’s faced that bothers me. The Big 12 is a total joke show when it comes to defense. It’s getting worse every year. 300-yard rushing performances are not a surprise anymore — and it’s hard to be that impressed when Foreman, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon run all over teams like Texas Tech.
Foreman’s out-of-conference opponents really only add to the problem. Texas faced Cal’s laughably bad defense, Notre Dame’s isn’t much better in 2016 and he didn’t play against UTEP.
It’s hard to knock a 2028-yard, 15-touchdown season — but this is probably the least challenging 2028-yard, 15-touchdown season you’ll ever see. It feels really strange writing that.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing else to judge him on. Texas aren’t Bowl eligible so he’s done now. College career over.
I’ve seen comparisons on Twitter to Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart. Lynch is unique and really nobody should ever be compared to him. People forget he was only 215lbs at his combine. Lynch played with the power of a 260lber at 215lbs. He was rare and should be a Hall of Famer. There will never be another Marshawn.
Stewart ran a 4.46 at 235lbs (Lynch also had a 4.46 funnily enough). Let’s see if Foreman can match that because physically they look quite similar and play with a similar attitude.
We know Pete Carroll likes Stewart — he makes reference to it every time the Seahawks play Carolina (which has been quite often over the years).
It’s also worth noting that both Lynch and Stewart went in the top-15. If Foreman runs in the 4.4’s there’s every chance he’ll go that early too.
He does hit the LOS with authority and you can lean on him, as Texas often did, to carry the load. Yet it’s his ability to bounce outside and hit the home run that is so impressive for a player with his size. A big back rarely has that ability to be explosive and sudden. Foreman has that. I just wish he had the chance to prove he can do it against LSU or a similar opponent.
The Seahawks could easily be in the market for a new runner to add to their collection. I can imagine the Seahawks liking him. His personality is pretty cool — kind of chilled out but with a hint of serious in there too.
They might have to take him in round one if they want him — and that might be the issue, especially considering the following:
— They might prefer to go O-line early if someone like Garett Bolles is available
— They might prefer to add a DL that can add some interior pass rush and disruption
— They might have to replace Earl Thomas if he’s really serious about potentially retiring
However, they need to do something to make sure they have a consistent run-game in 2017. This is the identity of the team we’re talking about. Tough running, physical play, great defense, point guard quarterback.
If they really like Foreman — and considering the injury problems with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise this year — this could be a possibility. Let’s see how he performs at the combine (and let’s especially hope he runs the forty).
Having said all this, when Pete Carroll recently referenced his ideal running back would have Thomas Rawls’ style at 240lbs — it’s hard not to think of this guy first and foremost.
Here’s Foreman’s tape vs California: