Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson’s Days in Titletown may be numbered

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 15: Cornerback Josh Jackson #37 of the Green Bay Packers warms up against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on December 15, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 15: Cornerback Josh Jackson #37 of the Green Bay Packers warms up against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on December 15, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

After two disappointing seasons to start his NFL career, Josh Jackson’s days with the Green Bay Packers could be numbered.

If we look back at the 2018 NFL draft, at the time the Green Bay Packers’ second-round selection of Josh Jackson seemed like a steal.  Throughout that offseason many had touted Jackson as being worthy of a first-round pick, so landing him at No. 45 along with Jaire Alexander in round one seemed like a home run for the Packers.

During his final season at Iowa, Jackson totaled 48 tackles, 18 pass-breakups and led the NCAA with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The hope among the Packer faithful was that Jackson was going to be their ball-hawking defender for years to come. Something that had been missing in the secondary for a while.

Unfortunately, Jackson would struggle during his rookie campaign, as he led the team in penalties with eight, allowed a completion percentage of 67 percent, at nearly 13 yards per catch and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 112.7 when targeting him.

Now, to a certain degree some of those issues were to be expected. Especially considering that Jackson went from playing primarily zone coverage at Iowa to man coverage under Mike Pettine and there was going to be an adjustment period.

But nonetheless, despite the ups and downs Jackson still saw plenty of playing time as he was on the field for 68 percent of Green Bay’s defensive snaps both as the slot corner and lining up out-wide.

Moving forward into the 2019 season, the hope was that Jackson was primed to make that year two leap that so many successful NFL players make. However, an injury early on in training camp would cause him to miss substantial practice time and his plummet down the depth chart began.

Even for a player that is the caliber of Aaron Rodgers, missing substantial practice time can lead to rust, so we can only imagine the effect that it had on Jackson who is still trying to refine his skill set. And that missed practice time was something that he was never able to recover from.

Of the cornerbacks on the Packers’ depth chart, Jackson finished fifth in defensive snap percentage at just 9.9 percent, which was behind Alexander, Kevin King, Tramon Williams, and Chandon Sullivan. Even in his limited action, Jackson still struggled as he gave up seven completions on eight targets with a touchdown and no pass breakups.

It’s quite clear that the Packers’ coaching staff just doesn’t trust him on the field and as a result, his days in Green Bay could be numbered.

The best case scenario for Jackson is that he enters training camp as Green Bay’s fourth cornerback behind Alexander, King, and Sullivan. However, I see that as unlikely given his performance over his first two seasons.

Instead, I imagine the Packers will add a veteran to the mix via free agency, perhaps a reunion with Williams, or select a corner in the early to mid-rounds of the draft. Or maybe both. Now all of a sudden, Jackson is the fifth or sixth cornerback option in camp and we haven’t even mentioned Ka’dar Hollman who flashed in the preseason.

Barring some miraculous turnaround this offseason, it’s hard to envision Jackson on this Green Bay Packers’ roster come Week 1 of the regular season. Of course, there is always the potential for a trade on draft day, but my gut says he will be with the Packers through the summer before he is eventually traded for a future Day 3 draft pick.

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As a former second-rounder, it’s unfortunate that this discussion even has to be had after only two NFL seasons. But based on what we’ve seen up to this point, if the Green Bay Packers can recoup a draft pick for him and Jackson can get a fresh start elsewhere, it seems like the best alternative for both parties.