Analysis (Taylor O’Neill): Although the Green Bay Packers took Jaire Alexander in the first round, they must be ecstatic to see a player so often mocked to them at #14 available at #45 in the second round. Jackson doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional archetype that Mike Pettine has favored for his defenses in the past, but at the University of Iowa he proved himself to be an absolute ballhawk. In 2017, Jackson had an eye-popping 27 passes defended and 8 interceptions. He’s not incredibly fast or physical, but he has fantastic instincts, great leaping ability, and a nose for the ball. He has very fluid hips that help him to turn and mirror receivers.
The concern is that Jackson’s fantastic 2017 was an anomaly (he played a much more limited role in 2015 and 2016). Analysts were a bit let down by his 4.56 40 time at the combine. Still, Jackson can line up outside and excel in press or off-coverage. If 2017 is a sign of what is to come for Jackson, the Packers drafted a player-maker with a very high ceiling.
Team fit (Jacob Westendorf): Josh Jackson marks the second cornerback the Packers have taken in this year’s draft. Coming into this draft there is no question that is what Brian Gutekunst felt was their biggest need. Jackson marks a controversial player because some people had him as high as the top corner on their board. Obviously, he was able to be had in the second round. Some teams felt differently.
Assuming that Kevin King is entrenched as a starting outside corner, Jackson will be in competition with Tramon Williams, Davon House, and Jaire Alexander for the other position. It’s unlikely that he’s capable to play the slot. Jackson’s play speed is not a problem, but he’s not a quick-twitch athlete.
After breaking the mold yesterday with Jaire Alexander, the Packers went to an homage to their previous tendencies with Jackson. He’s a big player with a specialty of playing outside cornerback.
He has not played much man-to-man, but his size and speed combination make him a simple projection to play more should he be asked to in Mike Pettine’s new scheme.
The biggest skill that jumps out about Jackson is his ball skills. There is plenty of room for debate as to who is the best cover corner in this draft. You could talk me into Jaire Alexander, Denzel Ward, Mike Hughes, or even Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick in the slot.
There is no argument, however, for who has the best ball skills in this draft. Josh Jackson is that player. It’s not particularly close.
The Packers needed to add competition to their cornerback room. This represents an admission of failure in the 2015 draft that saw them take Damarious Randall and Quinton Rollins. The Packers drafted those two and immediately placed them out of position.
This time around, the Packers took two cornerbacks and will likely play them in their natural positions.
The Packers hit a home run here. Every fan should be smiling with the work Brian Gutekunst has done in his first draft.
NFL Player Comp (Mike Wendlandt) – Richard Sherman, 49ers: Jackson isn’t the quickest or the strongest, but his instincts and ball skills are top notch. He’s a little bit of a project coming out of Iowa as a primary zone corner, but Sherman was a receiver at Stanford. With the tutelage of Tramon Williams, Davon House, and Mike Pettine, he can learn man technique quickly.
After his rookie year, Sherman exploded as an outside corner and became the guy we know and respect today. Jackson is in the same mold. He may not be ready to start as a rookie, but he can step in late in the year or in 2019 and become a lockdown corner.
Packers Big Board Rank: 4
Cheesehead TV Draft Guide Positional Rank: 1
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23