Green Bay needs to look into drafting a cornerback and a pass rusher in the first two days, and if they take a pass rusher at No. 14, there is a solid chance they take a cornerback in the middle of the second round. Two of the corners who could be there at pick No. 45 are Auburn’s Carlton Davis and Louisiana State’s Donte Jackson.
Davis, who started for Auburn all three of his years, had four interceptions, but three of them happened in his freshman season. In his final two seasons, he had 20 passes defensed, but only one interception. Like Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson, the lack of interceptions is a concern.
He has the size and skills to become a very good cornerback. Like Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver, Davis plays best when he is playing press coverage. The 21-year-old is a great fit in new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. Davis also is not shy about sticking his nose in on run plays either, much like last year’s first pick Kevin King.
According to Pro Football Focus, he only allowed a catch percentage of 48.1 percent, which was the lowest of his career. In terms of passer rating when targeting Davis, quarterbacks just had a rating of 74.7, according to PFF. In routes, he only allowed a 63.4 passer rating on slants and 66.1 on the go route. With the Tigers, he allowed only 103 receptions in 190 total targets. The former Auburn corner allowed receivers to catch less than 50 percent of passes when targeted in eight of the 13 games in 2017. He played in the SEC, so he has played some real good receivers, including Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, who will likely go in the first round.
Just like Davis, Donte Jackson also left after his junior season and had four career interceptions during his three-year collegiate career. He had 18 passes defensed as well with the LSU Tigers. He was a second-team All-SEC defensive back and he had 49 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Much like Denzel Ward of Ohio State, Jackson bided his time, playing for LSU behind players like Tre’Davious White and Kevin Tolliver before becoming a full-time starter in 2017.
However, he is a bit smaller than the Packers cornerback height threshold of 5-foot-11. He is also less than 180 pounds, so Jackson’s size is not ideal. But what Jackson lacks in size, he more than makes up for it with his speed and athleticism. He had a blistering 40-yard dash time of 4.32 at the combine, despite having a calf cramp. The former LSU defensive back thought he could break John Ross’ record for fastest time at the combine, which was set last year (4.22).
After an average first few seasons, Jackson turned it on in 2017. His Pro Football Focus rating is 83.6, and had almost an identical coverage rating of 83.2. He even was decent at run defense with a PFF rating of 74.9. He increased his PFF rating in all three categories each year he was with LSU.
Jackson excels at defending the crossing pattern, allowing just a 62.5 passer rating, according to PFF. He also allowed just a 39.6 passer rating on the in pattern. Overall, the former LSU cornerback allowed an 80.1 passer rating.
He does have a few things he needs to work on, though. First off, at the combine, he was able to put up just seven reps on the bench press. Cornerbacks don’t have to do a ton of reps on the bench, but seven is pretty bad. If the Packers were to draft Jackson, he’d play the slot. In the left slot, his passer rating when targeted was just 16.5, and in the right slot, it was 82.4, according to PFF. But when he was on an outside corner, he struggled a bit. As a left outside corner, the passer rating was 138.1 when targeted. As a right outside corner, he allowed a 102.3 passer rating when targeted.
The draft is next week, so if the Packers look to take a cornerback on the second day, keep an eye out for these players as possible selections, even if they take a cornerback in the first round.——————
Jonathon Zenk is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He is a huge Packers fan, and a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. You can follow Jonathon on Twitter at @jzenk42