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.