Eddie Jackson might be the most versatile back-seven defender in this year’s NFL Draft. He played corner and safety at Alabama and finished his college career with 130 tackles, nine interceptions and 12 pass break-ups.
He did a handful of other things, too.
“I just feel like I bring in versatility,” Jackson said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “With the ball in my hands, I’m able to do some crazy things, wether it’s punt return or special teams or I get an interception. I have a different aspect of the game and just the knowledge that I learned from Coach Saban and the coaches, just the competition level – I have a very competitive character.”
That competitive character was tested early in Jackson’s Alabama career, as he was burned early and often in practice by Amari Cooper.
“Being a starter in your high school career and then you come into Alabama, it’s like, ‘God, this guy in front of me, he’s good. This guy in front of him, he’s good. This guy next to me, he’s good,’” Jackson explained. “It’s like, ‘Man, now you really have to compete.’ We call it 5-star syndrome – guys who come in and feel like something is supposed to be handed to them. You really just have to work for everything. That’s what I really had to do. I had to work for everything. I had to compete. I had to go out there and show what was different between me and this guy that I’m competing against. It helped me. It helped me with everything off the field and on the field.”
Jackson, a Florida native, learned a lot in college. He entered as one person but is leaving as another.
“Just maturity-wise, I had to grow up,” Jackson said. “I had to be a man. There wasn’t no more mom and dad right there to tell you what’s right or what’s wrong. Now you’re on your own. You got to start making the right decisions. They prepared me for this my whole life by raising me and doing the right things by me, so I came and I was young-minded. It’s a difference coming from a big city to a football town like Tuscaloosa. It’s a big difference. There wasn’t that many things to do or get into, so you start looking to do crazy things when you’re young. I really just had to eliminate all those things, eliminate all the distractions.”