But, football nerd fact: The cornerback will be at least the second Michael Jackson that Bill Belichick has coached in the NFL. Late wide receiver Michael Jackson was one of Belichick’s first draft picks with the Cleveland Browns in 1991.
The Michael Jackson who was traded to the Patriots on Sunday, however, has great size for a cornerback at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2019 before he was selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft. He was hand-timed at 4.39 seconds. He tested impressively, otherwise, as well, running a 4.12-second short shuttle and 7.12-second three-cone drill with a 40.5-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump.
His weight, vertical leap and broad jump all rate about the 90th percentile among NFL cornerbacks.
He let up just 25 catches on 49 targets for 325 yards with one touchdown in 2018 at the University of Miami, per PFF. He forced eight incompletions that season and allowed just a 79 passer rating. He was even better as a junior, letting up just 24 catches on 47 targets for 237 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions for a 37.3 passer rating.
The Cowboys drafted Jackson before waiving him at cutdowns. He then spent almost two months on Dallas’ practice squad before Detroit signed him.
The Lions intended to waive Jackson on Sunday but instead traded him to the Patriots for a 2022 conditional seventh-round pick. The Patriots essentially acquired him for free. This is the fourth trade Belichick has made with the Lions involving a veteran player since 2000. The Patriots have acquired Jackson, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and cornerback Johnson Bademosi from the Lions. They traded safety Duron Harmon to the Lions earlier this offseason.
Jackson played in one preseason game last summer, allowing five catches on six targets for 84 yards in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers as a member of the Cowboys.
In New England, he’ll compete with fellow cornerbacks Justin Bethel, Myles Bryant, Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, D’Angelo Ross and Joejuan Williams plus safeties Terrence Brooks, Cody Davis, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips for snaps this summer. Jackson, at this point, probably should be viewed as a longshot for a roster spot, though his combination of size, athleticism and college production is definitely intriguing.
The Patriots currently have 76 players on their active roster. Exceeding 80 players would force them to practice with split squads, which they’re trying to avoid.
The Patriots can sign four more players before training camp officially begins Aug. 17. The Patriots can start having unpadded practices in a ramp-up period starting Wednesday.