NFL Draft experts didn’t expect former Tennessee defensive back Theo Jackson to get drafted in the 2022 draft earlier this month. Jackson wasn’t invited to this year’s NFL Combine and despite a strong senior season doesn’t possess elite measurables.
However, Jackson’s hometown Tennessee Titans took a chance on the versatile defensive back, selecting him in the sixth round of the draft.
“Just liked his attitude,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. “(He) answered a bunch of questions right today. Kind of shows up, I think he’s going to be a really nice addition to our team. It was really cool to be able to see him here for that local day, visit with him, watch him— he worked out — wasn’t like he was adverse to working out. He came and worked out in the rain and we were excited to be able to take him.”
The selection is paying dividend so far. Jackson was extremely impressive in the Titans’ rookie mini-camp, turning the heads of the media and coaches alike.
Jackson earned praise for consistently being around the ball — a staple of his final season in Knoxville — and also intercepted Titans’ rookie quarterback Malik Willis.
Nashville’s Theo Jackson, an Overton HS grad and UT alum, had an interception of Willis today. Came very close to two, as a matter of fact.
— John Glennon (@glennonsports) May 14, 2022
Another thing that stood out today, new #Titans DB Theo Jackson seems to always be around the football. He picked off Malik Willis today & was right there on a couple of other throws.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) May 14, 2022
“It’s been great,” Jackson said of mini-camp. “Just to come out here and finally play football. I’m learning to be a pro. Learning the scheme and all that. I think it’s going to go well.”
Playing for the Titans is a full circle journey for Jackson. The versatile defensive back played his high school football at Nashville’s Overton High School, just eight miles away from Nissan Stadium.
Jackson was a breakout star in Josh Heupel’s first season as Tennessee’s head coach. Moving from safety to STAR (nickel back), Jackson recorded 78 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception — all highs in his five-year collegiate career.
A strong rookie mini-camp is far from guaranteeing success for Jackson, but it is a strong start to his collegiate career.