One of the biggest perks to being a member of SB Nation is the ability to consult fanatics from other teams. This time of year, having an NFL blog in particular is sweet because we can consult fans of our draftees' colleges. It's that dynamic that led me to ask the guys over at Roll Bama Roll to give me their thoughts on your Houston Texans' first-round selection, Kareem Jackson. OTS, one of the big cheeses over at RBR, was kind enough to answer my call. OTS' thoughts on one of the newest Texans after the jump...
Take it away, OTS:
First off, for some background information on Kareem, it should be noted that when he came out of high school he did not receive any scholarship offers. None. Nevertheless, he and those around him knew he could play, so they sent him to one of the military prep schools, and there he garnered some attention and received an offer from Vanderbilt. He was committed to them, looking to enroll early, when he took an official visit to Tuscaloosa shortly after Saban arrived, and on that trip he called his mom and told her he wasn't coming home. He signed with 'Bama and enrolled the following day. Most 'Bama fans, myself included, had never heard of the guy prior to this, and if I remember correctly he was a two-star recruit.
Even so, he showed up on campus that spring and looked pretty good in the A-Day game. That fall he surprised everyone even more by quickly grabbing a starting job in fall camp, and honestly he held onto it until he declared early for the NFL Draft. We were pretty thin at corner at the time, but even so he did go by at least a few upperclassmen, and truth be told he was really the best cornerback we had on campus even then (better than Simeon Castille, who received quite a bit of attention, mainly I would argue because of his last name). Kareem may have had a tad bit of a sophomore slump as a sophomore -- though in all fairness he still started 14 games on an elite defense, so a "slump" must be kept in that context -- and in 2009 he really stood out and was a key part of our national championship run.
Now, admittedly, I never pegged the guy as a first round pick. I thought he was a good player that would probably be a second or third round pick with a solid pre-draft showing. Saban largely held the same opinion, which is why he advised him against leaving early. The thought on Jackson was that while he was a good, solid athlete, he really was not the elite caliber of athlete like you normally find with the really high-end cornerback prospects. Of course, though, when Jackson showed up and ran a 4.41 in front of the scouts, suddenly that blew everything out of the water.
And I think that is really what put the Texans over the top with Jackson. If you look at him as a whole, that was really the only thing he was missing all along. He's got the raw size you want, he spent three years as a starter on a very good defense going against the very best collegiate competition, he's a good kid, very smart, and a hard worker, plus he has never had any injuries (even minor injuries). Once you throw some flashes of elite athleticism into that scouting report, suddenly his stock becomes quite damn bullish and he turns into a legitimate first round pick.
Again, though, admittedly I never thought Jackson would go that high (I also didn't think he would run a 4.41 either). By the same token, on the other hand, I have a hard time seeing it be a bad choice. Jackson has frankly always been a good player for us, and at the absolute worst you get a good, well-behaved smart kid -- very much in the mold of Caldwell and Ryans -- who has shown himself against the best collegiate competition, who will work very hard, and who has shown himself to be a good athlete. Admittedly #20 overall may be a tad high, but even so I tend to think of him as a pretty solid pick who will be a good player.
Many thanks to OTS for taking the time to educate me/us about Kareem. Head on over to Roll Bama Roll for all your Crimson Tide queries. The community over there is so good that I momentarily forgot how the Tide ruined January 7, 2010 for me.