May 15, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT
Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
The seventh of eight Irish players to get their name called in the draft, Bennett Jackson was picked by the Giants in the sixth round (11th pick, 187th overall). Jackson started every game his last two seasons at cornerback and showed good speed, agility, and explosiveness in the months leading up to the draft.
Of course, it’s unusual for sixth-rounders to look like starters the May before their rookie season, but let’s see how Jackson fits with the Giants.
2013 cornerback starters: Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas
The Giants upgraded their cornerback situation in free agency this offseason, picking up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in favor of Terrell Thomas.
Barring a slew of injuries to the Giants’ secondary, I would be shocked to see Jackson starting in 2014. It’s hard enough for sixth-round picks to see time, let alone on teams with two cornerbacks who were picked 16th and 19th overall in their respective drafts.
Bennett Jackson isn’t going to beat out Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara as a rookie. That’s not a knock on Jackson, that’s just an unfortunate reality.
The guys he’s competing with for playing time (and a roster spot) are the other backups, and there’s some tough sledding there too. Jayron Hosley, Walter Thurmond, Trumaine McBride, and Zack Bowman all offer depth for a boosted Giants secondary that already finished 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
So what does that mean for Jackson? Well, he has a great opportunity to study under talented cornerbacks in the hopes of developing into a starting-caliber defensive back. Jackson’s greatest assets are his athleticism and explosiveness, which can be developed in his early seasons.
Jackson came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, so he will be served by learning the position. His biggest weaknesses at Notre Dame were positional: coverage technique, instincts, and tackling. With his raw tools, tightening up his skills will go a long way.
What will help with that is if Jackson can contribute right away on special teams, which is very likely if he makes the roster. It’s an uphill battle to become an NFL starter for any late pick, but Jackson just might have the physical tools to make it happen with some experience.
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