Donte Jackson was a man of action as a rookie. The cornerback, selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, led the Panthers in interceptions and was the only defensive player to score any points this past season.
Those are flashy facts from a flashy personality. But at least as importantly, Jackson proved fundamentally sound for his age as well.
The Panthers value tackling skills in their cornerbacks, and given Jackson’s relatively slight build that was, well, a secondary concern regarding his role. But Jackson started right away as a rookie in part because of what he showed in that area in the preseason, and he ended the year with 83 tackles based on coaches’ film review – 14 more than noted tackling corner James Bradberry and four tackles shy of matching linebacker Shaq Thompson for second on the team.
But, of course, Jackson’s possession-changing plays must be noted as well. Two of his interceptions essentially were as a result of playing center field, but the other two came as a result of Jackson outfighting receivers for the ball. He capped it with a scoring play that stood as a franchise first: a two-point conversion attempt returned the other way by the Panthers for two points of their own.