Jason McCourty: Patriots CB J.C. Jackson 'can be one of the best' in NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson is quickly becoming one of the best players at his position in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 3 cornerback in the NFL entering Week 8, and he made more impactful plays in Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Jackson intercepted Bills quarterback Josh Allen near the end of the second quarter, which helped set up a Patriots field goal before halftime.
It was Jackson's fourth interception of the season, tying him for the league lead. One of Jackson's teammates, Jason McCourty, had plenty of praise for the 24-year-old cornerback on Monday.
"I tell Jerald all the time -- to me, in my mind, he's a No. 1 corner. That's what his ability, that's what his potential is," McCourty said in a video press conference, as transcribed by NESN's Zack Cox. "So, to me, I tell him all the time, it's just about him going out there and doing it play in and play out. It's just the consistency.
"Obviously, this is just Year 3 for him. The guy's already in double digit interceptions, and he hasn't even played 100 percent of the playing time on our defense. His playmaking ability, his ability to cover guys up, he can be one of the best in this league. I think he just needs to work on improving each and every day like the rest of us, and just continue working on just being as consistent as we all can possibly be."
Jackson joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent before the 2018 season, and his 12 interceptions over that span lead the team.
Stephon Gilmore is the Patriots' best player and the reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year award winner. The veteran cornerback also has been named a first team All-Pro selection in each of the last two seasons.
Gilmore's future with the Patriots is unknown, though. He's been the subject of trade speculation ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, and he's only signed through next season. If Gilmore leaves the Patriots in the near future, Jackson should be able to take over the No. 1 cornerback role and excel.
The Patriots have had a lot of quality cornerbacks during Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure as head coach, and Jackson looks like the latest one set to become a star.