Take a look back through Kareem Jackson's football career with photos from his days at Alabama through his time with the Texans.
Calling Kareem Jackson purely a safety or a cornerback is inaccurate. Over the course of his nine seasons with the Texans, the breadth of his work made him one of the NFL's most versatile defensive backs, capable of working in any spot in the secondary.
When he works at cornerback, he has the broad vision of a safety -- and with it the ability to quickly analyze the offensive alignment in front of him. When a coach aligns him at safety, he brings an elite cornerback's knack for distilling the superfluous moving parts down to his specific assignment.
He does both so well he admits that he doesn't have a specific preference.
"I actually enjoy kind of floating around, playing a little bit of everywhere," Jackson said. "I feel like that could be an advantage for us as a team game-planning-wise, just depending on what type of skill sets that the offense possesses in terms of the guys that they have."
Few defensive backs have this sort of Swiss-army knife adaptability. Fewer still can play so many spots -- and do so with solid-starter capability.
“It helps a lot with me being able to play the safety spot, just being able to see the entire field, and also preparing and knowing what the offenses are doing," Jackson said Friday as he met Denver-area media for the first time as a Bronco.
"Being able to see the entire field on both sides -- whether it's receiver splits, recognizing how deep the back is or just little things like that. It also helps me playing corner as well and one side of the field. You kind of have to get a feel for receiver splits [and] formations. Just little things like that can definitely help in your preparing and going into the games on Sundays."
The Broncos gained more flexibility in their use of Jackson after agreeing to terms with former Chicago Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan on Friday. In three-cornerback sub packages, Callahan can work in the slot, leaving Jackson to handle work on the outside.
Like Chris Harris Jr., Callahan can be used in two-cornerback sets, and the Broncos could use Callahan's arrival to create opportunities for Jackson to work as a safety -- both in the base defense or in some three-safety alignments.
“[Jackson] gives us a lot of options," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "Just from week to week we might be able to line him up where we feel he best fits to defend the team we’re playing. He’s smart enough to learn all the different positions. He’s proven it in games and on tape that he can execute the positions, not just know what do to do, but play them competitively and at a high level.
"It’s a big advantage and it helps when you’re looking at other players that you have guys that can move around."
Jackson's aggressiveness against the run and willingness to attack and not let others get tackles also pairs well with Harris, who is one of the league's most active cornerbacks in rushing containment.
"Throughout my career, I’ve just always been that type of guy -- [to] kind of get down in the line and be physical and tackle," Jackson said.
That makes him perfect for Fangio's defense. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Fangio called tackling a "non-negotiable" attribute in his evaluations of prospective Broncos. Jackson finished last year with 34 stops -- tackles that result in a "loss" for the opposing offense -- according to Pro Football Focus.
Jackson can do it all, and as he enters his 10th season, he's doing it better than he ever has before. That's why Fangio and President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway coveted him, and why he makes Denver's defense better just by walking into the building.