If the Patriots strongly consider selecting a cornerback within the first 53 picks of the NFL draft, one prospect to keep on the radar is Alabama’s Kareem Jackson.
The club has put Jackson through private workout as part of its evaluation process and there is also the strong link between Bill Belichick and Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
One aspect that stands out with Jackson (5-11, 196) is pure playing time. Although he enters the draft following his junior season, he started 40 of the 41 games in which he suited up at Alabama.
In a way, that makes Jackson similar to the Patriots’ top pick last year, safety Pat Chung, who had extensive playing time at Oregon. When a prospect has that much playing time to evaluate, it makes the scouting process a little easier.
Jackson, who is considered a strong player at the line of scrimmage with a bump-and-run style, is projected as a second-round pick.
The Patriots look pretty solid at cornerback with Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Shawn Springs, Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley atop the depth chart, so the position doesn’t seem like a pressing need. But a player like Jackson, if available in the second round, could strengthen the group when considering how often the Patriots are in sub packages that call for extra defensive backs (50 percent of the time in 2009).