We are now 23 days away from the NFL Draft, which takes place April 27 – 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. As new General Manager Brian Gutekunst prepares to run his first draft, he is armed with the most picks of any team (12) to retool the Packers roster. The more that I think about what Gutekunst will do with his first pick, the more I think he has to draft a defensive player with his first pick, which is obvious, I know. But what position should he target?
When the offseason first started I was big on drafting a pass rusher to compliment Clay Matthews. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that is a very big need for this team and think that Gutekunst will address it at some point in the draft. Heck, he may even trade back into the 1st round so it has 2 1st round picks, a la Ted Thompson. The more I think about the draft, the more I think they should draft a cornerback with their 1st pick at number 14.
Granted, they did bring back Tramon Williams, but the position group is still low on bodies and talent. Tramon would be a great leader to the young cornerbacks and something they have lacked in the secondary since Charles Woodson left. Kevin King is going to be the starter at one cornerback spot, and I think they you pair him with another talented cornerback from this years draft class.
The cornerback that may be a great fit for Mike Pettine’s new defense could be Josh Jackson from Iowa. Wisconsin fans may remember him for the 2 touchdowns that he scored against the Badgers this past fall. Josh Jackson has all of the physical tools of a first round cornerback and could be available when the Packers pick at number 14.
Jackson is a 6 foot junior from Iowa who was only a starter for one season. He has the strength and leverage to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and has a knack for being a playmaker. The only slight on him is he does not have blazing speed, which isn’t ideal in today’s pass heavy league.
He was a wide receiver his freshmen year of college until they converted him to corner his sophomore year. In the short amount of time he has been playing corner, he turned into a talented cover corner who would match-up against the opposing teams number 1 wide receiver. He will have to learn the NFL defensive rules, as he can’t put his hands on the receivers past 5 yards, plus Iowa played a lot of zone coverage so he will have to improve is man to man coverage skills. But he has the raw talent and a high ceiling to excel at the next level.
With Kevin King returning from an injury plagued rookie season, pairing him with a big physical corner like Josh Jackson could give the Packers a lockdown cornerback tandem for years to come. Not to mention Jackson already has a leader on the Packers defense already advocating for Gutekunst to draft him. Recently it has been reported that Mike Daniels has praised Jackson publicly and stated that he thinks Jackson would be a great addition to the rebuilt Packers defense.
In my column next week Thursday, I will take a look at another potential cornerback prospect that the Packers could draft, Denzel Ward.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag