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Donte Jackson Reveals Steelers Have Been Wanting Him for Years



Pittsburgh Steelers Donte Jackson

Mike Tomlin is on the pro day trail more than any other head coach, so he familiarizes himself with a ton of prospects during the process, even if the player is out of the Steelers’ range or not a top position of need.

With free agency and trades, Tomlin knows that someday he could be doing business with a young prospect, so it’s important to get to know them as people.

When newly acquired cornerback Donte Jackson visited the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the first time this week after being traded from Carolina, he mentioned to Dale Lolley of that Tomlin has been after him for years.

Tomlin was at LSU’s pro day in 2018 when Jackson ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and was one of just two head coaches on hand to witness Jackson light it up.

“Coach Tomlin, he was on me a lot coming out of college, and a lot when I was getting ready to sign my second contract,” Jackson said Wednesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I signed a second contract with the Panthers and the Steelers were right there. This past trade deadline, they were right there. And now they’re right there again. So, I just feel like it’s meant to be. I can’t even express the amount of respect and gratitude I have for this organization for not only taking the chance on me but making me a guy that they focus on getting, that they really showed they wanted for years and years now. I’m finally getting to be here.

“I feel like it happened at the time it was supposed to happen. I’ve been playing my best ball. I’m just happy to get out there with this great defense and shock the league. I just can’t wait.”

Jackson looks forward to playing for Tomlin and being a part of a stable organization. In six seasons in Carolina, Jackson played for five different head coaches. There’s also has been a lot of turmoil in Carolina’s organization the past few years.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of ups and downs,” Jackson said. “My last team for six seasons, there were a lot of coaching changes, a lot of personnel changes. I think just being somewhere like this, where a lot of the roots are already in the ground, a lot of the coaching is the same, a lot of management is the same, a lot of the training, just that culture, it just gets you ready to come in and just to be a part of something like this is just amazing.”

This past season, Jackson allowed 45 receptions for 588 yards on 57 targets last season. In addition, he allowed three touchdowns. While he has 14 career interceptions, that has not been his forte recently, especially in a secondary for the Steelers that emphasizes those ball skills. In the last two seasons, he has two interceptions. It should be noted that Jackson often gets his hands on the ball, but does not always catch it. He had three dropped interceptions a year ago.

But Jackson can fly. Even post-Achilles injury, Jackson’s 4.32 speed still shines. That makes sense for a group that needed speed on the outside. That speed means he can work on an island in man coverage, which fits what the Steelers want to do with Joey Porter Jr. on the outside.

According to Sports Info Solutions, Jackson allowed a 101.4 passer rating and 8.1 yards per attempt when targeted. Those are not great numbers. He only played in man coverage 33% of the time last season, so that could hike up significantly and be where room for upside in the move is found.