Jackson Faces Make-Or-Break Season

Brian Gutekunst was named general manager of the Green Bay Packers on January 8, 2018. He’s made over 100 personnel moves since that time – some good and some not so good. I listed his 12 best moves earlier this month, and now I’ve spent the past couple of weeks counting down his worst moves. Here’s No. 4:

There was actually talk that Josh Jackson could be a first-round pick after a terrific junior season at Iowa, but that was before he ran a very disappointing 4.56 at the NFL Combine. Just as importantly, that was before scouts started to really break down his game tape. What they saw was an intelligent and instinctive cornerback who took advantage of a lot of shaky Big 10 quarterbacks to record a nation-leading eight interceptions in 2017, but also a cornerback without a lot of twitch who struggled at times to cover quick wide receivers and tight ends.

Gutekunst wound up taking Jackson in the middle of the second round. The rookie looked pretty good throughout the spring and early in training camp, but the more he played, the more he struggled – even against wide receivers who would be out of the league by September. Jackson got beat over the top for long completions, and he consistently gave up separation at the break point. He labored through 721 snaps in 2018 and then lost the No. 4 cornerback job to street free agent Chandon Sullivan last season. And while a lack of depth in the secondary should keep Jackson around for another year, that’s far from guaranteed.

There are cornerbacks who thrived in the NFL without great speed, and there are cornerbacks who thrived with stiffish hips, but there haven’t been many cornerbacks who thrived with both a lack of great speed and stiffish hips. That’s why there’s been some talk of moving Jackson to safety. He’d have to improve his tackling to make that switch work, but it’s probably worth trying. It just doesn’t seem likely that he can be a quality starting corner at this level – something a growing number of scouts believed going into the ’18 draft.

#8 – Lowry Regressed After Payday
#7 – Moore Was Less Than Expected
#6 – Turner Needs To Be Better

#5 – Graham Added Little To Offense

Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

3 thoughts on “Jackson Faces Make-Or-Break Season

  1. Josh Jackson is the poster boy on why you double down in the draft and free agency on one position. Brian Gutekunst drafted Jaire Alexander in the first round and Jackson in round two. Alexander looked a lot like Ahmad Carroll to me. While Jackson reminded me of Al Harris. I was wrong. But what was important were two things. First, we got a starting corner out of that draft (we did). And secondly Gutekunst didn’t give up on Kevin King. He could have easily said King wasn’t drafted by me and forced Jackson into his role.

    Not unlike what Ted Thompson did with Casey Hayward. Ted had drafted Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins. Thinking he’d fixed the CB position, he foolishly let Hayward walk. We’re still paying for that mistake. That shows me Gutekunst is willing to learn from past mistakes. Either his or someone else’s.

  2. It’s more like point/counterpoint. Look, I agree with you 100% on this. When I saw Josh Jackson play in the preseason last year, he was terrible. He looked lost and had no confidence. And when your a CB with no confidence, your done. Your toast. I seriously doubt he can get that back. Missing on Jackson hurts if we can’t resign King next offseason. Which I see no better than 50/50.

    All I know is I remember thinking that Jackson was a viable option at 14 until he had the bad 40 time. But my preferred pick was Van Der Esch. So when Gutekunst took Alexander I wasn’t happy at all. Had our GM taken the ILB instead of the corner, with Jackson at pick 45. Our secondary would have been beaten like a rented mule the last two years. And I’d seen enough of that already. Thankfully someone smarter than me is running the show.

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