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Ryan Clark Hopes Donte Jackson Plays in Slot for Steelers

Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark is hoping that the team looks at Donte Jackson and puts him in the slot this season.



Pittsburgh Steelers Donte Jackson
Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) stands on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

When he came to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was thought Donte Jackson would mostly play outside. To this point, there is nothing that would indicate the opposite, but former Steelers safety Ryan Clark believes that Jackson should at least try to play inside at slot cornerback.

“Joey Porter Jr., Young Peezy, could be a star at corner. He’s gonna travel with the No. 1, you add Donte Jackson to that,” Clark said in an appearance on the All Things Covered Podcast. “I want to see defensively if they say ‘Donte, we’re gonna move you inside as well. Let you play inside.’ Because they were searching for that person to be there.”

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.

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