Josh Jackson Eyeing Year Three Jump

He led the NCAA with eight interceptions before falling off. Now, CB Josh Jackson is having a great start to training camp. 

After leading the NCAA in interceptions in 2017, Iowa corner Josh Jackson was a first-round talent when he declared for the NFL Draft. However, a poor showing at the combine sent him falling to the Green Bay Packers with the 13th pick in the second round. The Packers believed they had a steal, however, Jackson’s first two years in the league didn’t pan out they hoped. Now, as he enters year three, things are looking up. 

In the last couple of weeks during training camp, Jackson has been one of the team’s biggest surprises. He has stacked good practices together and made plays against some of Green Bay’s top receivers. Jackson’s success couldn’t have come at a better time with Tramon Williams no longer in town and Kevin King entering a contract year. While there’s no doubt that Jackson’s play has been refreshing, it also serves as a reminder for how far he’s come.

Jackson had a promising start to his NFL career. His pick-six in the 2018 preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of his most memorable moments. Of course, that’s hard to contend with his first actual touchdown, which came against the Minnesota Vikings during his rookie year. Former Green Bay wide receiver Geronimo Allison blocked a punt attempt, and Jackson was there to catch it in the end zone. Many thought Jackson would trend in the right direction over the next couple of years, but the former ball-hawking Hawkeye hasn’t found his NFL footing quite yet. 

In 16 games as a rookie, Jackson was the starter for 10 of those matchups as King managed a nagging shoulder injury. He finished with 49 tackles, 10 pass deflections, but no interceptions. Decent numbers but nothing spectacular.

Like most rookies, Jackson faced his fair share of learning in year one. He was wildly inconsistent and even looked overwhelmed at times. The team struggled to find the right spot for him on defense, trying him in the slot and at safety, but nothing stuck.

Things only got worse in year two. Jackson played 718 snaps on defense in 2018. That number dropped to 103 in 2019. During those limited snaps, it was hard to notice any progress at all. Obviously, players develop at different rates, however, as a second-rounder the returns were expected sooner. While external frustration grew, Jackson remained focused.

Despite the roller coaster that has been the last two years, Jackson has always had the right mindset. He worked on his craft and focused on getting better every day. It didn’t matter where he lined up, he just wanted to benefit the team. Recently, the decision was made for Jackson to stick to outside corner- the position where he dominated in a zone-heavy scheme in college.

Currently, Jackson is focusing on what he can control and playing fast. For an NFL corner, there’s no time to focus on what happened in the past, according to Jackson. He told reporters on Sunday he’s trying to find the confidence he had in college and believes it will happen with more experience. If the time comes where the team needs Jackson, he says he is ready.

“I feel pretty hungry and ready to help the team get to where we need to get,” said Jackson. “Obviously, we have goals, and I just want to come and do my job every chance I get and really just make plays for the team and be someone (they) can rely on.”

The time very well may come where Jackson is thrust into a starting role like he was in 2018. The Packers no longer have their veteran security blanket in Tramon Williams and King has had plenty of injury concerns.  

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine appears pleased with Jackson’s progress. He admitting to overwhelming him early on, which probably didn’t help much in terms of his corner's development. But now that Jackson can focus on one position, his comfort level is expected to grow.

“We have high expectations for Josh, and he’s going to be a big part of what we do this year,” said Pettine.

If everything comes together for Jackson in year three, the Packers group of corners and the defense as a whole will reap the benefits.

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (26)

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ImaPayne's picture

August 26, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Seems there is a handful of three year guys all on the hope and prayer venue. My issue is why couldn't these people come out in year two? How much learning do they need?

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PF4L's picture

August 26, 2020 at 01:26 pm

Yea, it used to be called a year "2 leap"....now we're at year "3 leap"? I hope it doesn't get bad enough in Green Bay where fans start looking for players to make that "year 4 leap".

"BUT.....don't forget, apparently he looks good in camp, and had a pick 6 in pre-season 2 years ago. So he has that going for him.

Other than special teams, Jackson has been largely another wasted 2nd round pick in recent history. Joining the disappointments of Josh Jones, Jason Spriggs, Quinten Rollin's.
It seems when we spend 2nd round picks on wide receivers, we have much better luck. Like Cobb, Jordy, Adams, Jennings.

Let the thumbs down begin! :)

Stay thirsty my friends.

Thank God for Jaire Alexander. At least we got one starter out of that draft.

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Demon's picture

August 26, 2020 at 01:50 pm

And last year at this time all the coaches and players were saying the same thing about M Adams. Blah blah blah

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PF4L's picture

August 26, 2020 at 03:37 pm

Lol...Demon knows how this game works :)

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 26, 2020 at 05:24 pm

Doesn't the article kind of explain that they put too much on this plate, having him prepare for 3 positions last year? Slot CB, Outside CB and safety. Those other positions didn't play to his strengths. Outside CB does. This was like when they tried to make Damarious Randall a CB instead of a Safety. Might be a coaching mistake.

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Stroh's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:46 pm

Outside CB is very debateable too. Maybe Gray can pull something out of him, but I wouldn't count on it. He has poor transition from backpedal to flip his hips and change directions. He loses a step in the transition then doesn't have the make up speed to get back in phase or stay w/ the WR. The only chance of success Jackson has is to become a great at pressing the WR at the LOS and disrupting the route, a la Al Harris. If he doesn't win at the LOS Jackson is toast.

The reason Jackson was tried at so many other roles was because he was a failure at outside CB in the first place.

Jackson got 5 of his 8 INT's and both TD's gifted to him by TJ Barrett and Alex Hornibrook. It was like the QB was throwing to Jackson instead of the WR. I dont' put much stock in his big season at Iowa.

Randall was a CB in college and played man coverage CB in college, he was a Safety in name only at ASU. He usually had no help and was man coverage all over the field. ASU just a a funky scheme and the position Randall played tho called Safety, required him to play man coverage w/ no help, like a CB does. He also played strictly CB in Jr college. Poor comparison to say the least.

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jannes bjornson's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:59 pm

Press with the safety shading him. Savage could be completely free to read the QB as long as Jackson can body up on his guy. With ZaDarious, P Smith and Gary there are a lot of pressures coming at the opposing QB.
Jerry Gray will get them playing loose and smart. Make plays.

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Stroh's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:34 pm

double post

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PF4L's picture

August 26, 2020 at 08:41 pm

I think "westcoastpacker" is on to something with Randall.
But, i'm not so quick on blaming the coaches. Here's why.

D. Randall was drafted to be a corner by Ted Thompson, Ted even told everybody that.
Ted would draft players out of position (thinking he's outsmarting other teams) < - Teds words.
So Ted would often draft players out of their college position and expect the coaches to convert them to a new position in the NFL. A lot of Def. ends drafted were attempted to convert to linebacker, it didn't work out well. Lets face it, at the time, myself included, many fans were questioning Ted's health and awareness and why Murphy did nothing about it at the time or even the next two years

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Coldworld's picture

August 26, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Big believer in mastering one facet and then expanding from that as a general principle. If that is now working for Jackson that will be a big plus for all concerned. Fingers crossed!

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egbertsouse's picture

August 26, 2020 at 12:58 pm

I’m normally skeptical of the August Workout Warriors who wow everybody in training camp and reserve judgment until I see them in live action. In this case, I’m a little more hopeful because, for the first time, Jackson seems to have a competent position coach. I was always disappointed during the Joe Whitt years to watch rookie DBs show flashes in their first year only to regress out of the league by year three.

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Stroh's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:41 pm

Nevermind that Woodson, Tramon and others called Joe Whitt a terrific coach! Jackson doesnt' have CB skills for the NFL. Maybe in strictly zone coverage he could be decent, but you should remain very skeptical of Jackson suddenly becoming an NFL CB.

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Switchcuzz's picture

August 27, 2020 at 02:41 am

Man shows how good Sam Shields and Tramon Williams really where.

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Cheesey51's picture

August 26, 2020 at 02:09 pm

Excellent article. Pettine's realization of boundary corner for jackson can only add to another top five GB's secondary in 2020

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PF4L's picture

August 27, 2020 at 10:47 am

The last time the Packers had a top 5 passing defense was 2010 ranking 5th yielding 3,107 for the season.

Then, believe it or not, in 2011 the Packers pass defense ranked 32nd, yielding 4,796 yards.

Hard to believe right? They gave up 1,689 more yards in the air, in 1 season. Or over 100 yards a game.

Dropping from 5th to 32nd in one season. A NFL record.

Ironic, when you consider the 2011 defense led the league in interceptions at 31.

The NFL record is 49 by San Diego in 1961, followed by Green Bay (41) in 1943

Why do i know this stuff.....simple.

I'm a PackerFan4Life. (PF4L)

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Lphill's picture

August 26, 2020 at 02:35 pm

Jackson was a starter in college in 2017 , he made only 1 start the year before , he entered the draft in 2018 he should have made a positive impact last season , was it playing time or was it him? This is his prove it season.

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Rudedawg67's picture

August 26, 2020 at 03:09 pm

Glad to hear Josh Jackson is making the leap. Green Bay released another CB Marc-Antione Decoy. I was hoping they would hold onto them a little longer . Dequoy clocked a blazing 4.35-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 6.65 in the three-cone drill. He also recorded a 37-inch vertical and 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump.
He would’ve been ranked in the top five in all those categories if he attended the combine. In the 20 and 10 yard split him and Kevin King were almost identical. I guess the question is could you have waited to cut a 6ft 3in corner with all that talent. With that size you could even convert him to safety possibly. Was he too much of a project? I was wondering if anyone else had any thoughts regarding him.

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PF4L's picture

August 26, 2020 at 03:51 pm

Workout metrics and football talent, are often 2 very different things.

You can take a world class track star and put him in the NFL combine and he will score very well, but he most likely can't play football worth a damn.

I used to read article after article from an obsessed writer who stated that Jeff Janis had about the same combine metrics as Julio Jones, as if that were some proof of potential, or just cause to defend a players ability.
That player was Jeff Janis. After mild success as a gunner on special teams, he is now selling tires in Oscoda, Michigan.

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Stroh's picture

August 26, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Jackson doesn't have it in him to "play fast". The NFL is too fast for him. The only chance he has for success to adopt a Al Harris type game and become great at jamming the WR at the LOS and disrupting the WR from getting into his route on time. Any time a WR get free from him at the LOS he's going to get beat like a drum. To date he hasn't been able or willing to play like Harris. I'm heard Gray is working w/ him on exactly that... Winning at the LOS and disrupting the WR route. That is his ONLY chance for success in the NFL and will require him to develop the mindset that he has to be physical at the LOS then hang w/ him w/o being physical.

Call me dubious, but I've never had any confidence in him. Was saying even when they drafted him he had to become great at the press at the LOS. We'll see, but maybe Gray can get something out of him. Otherwise he's a dead stick.

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dobber's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:24 pm

Dubious Stroh--could there be a more Wisconsin rapper name?

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Stroh's picture

August 26, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Jackson doesn't have it in him to "play fast". The NFL is too fast for him. The only chance he has for success to adopt a Al Harris type game and become great at jamming the WR at the LOS and disrupting the WR from getting into his route on time. Any time a WR get free from him at the LOS he's going to get beat like a drum. To date he hasn't been able or willing to play like Harris. I'm heard Gray is working w/ him on exactly that... Winning at the LOS and disrupting the WR route. That is his ONLY chance for success in the NFL and will require him to develop the mindset that he has to be physical at the LOS then hang w/ him w/o being physical.

Call me dubious, but I've never had any confidence in him. Was saying even when they drafted him he had to become great at the press at the LOS. We'll see, but maybe Gray can get something out of him. Otherwise he's a dead stick.

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nostradanus's picture

August 26, 2020 at 05:47 pm

I’m glad the kid is finally getting a chance to shine. He’s had a few tough breaks but he has talent. Outside corner is his gig, don’t know why he was in the slot & safety.

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Oppy's picture

August 26, 2020 at 07:12 pm

Can't tell you how happy I am to hear Josh is putting together a nice camp.
Day one of camp had Jackson all over the highlight play tweets- on the wrong side of things.

Since day two, he's been cited regularly for making good plays.

This young man seems like a good kid, he has ball skills, but it has looked like he needs to play with his back to the endzone during his rookie campaign. Got lost a lot when having to flip his hips and run with the receivers. His confidence took a beating and he looked wounded as a result the following season.

He needs to gain his confidence back, and it would be helpful if the Packers occasionally put him in some zone coverages, let him roam, or maybe even spell a safety here and there. He seems like an opportunist when he can keep eyes on the LOS.

Good luck to Josh. I'm pulling for him.

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NickPerry's picture

August 27, 2020 at 02:53 am

From everything I've read and/or listen to, Jackson is starting finally put things together. Jackson may not be the fastest or have the best hips but he's really strong and knows how to use the sideline. Gray and Pettine want to make Jackson good at one thing which is a boundary CB...FIRST. To much is made about 40 times and what a player did in a perfect environment while in spandex. Click a stop watch on and off as fast as you can and that's the difference in many of these 40 times and the difference between calling a player fast or slow.

Personally I thought the hire of Gray as the new CB coach was the best addition the Packers made after this past offseason and is EXACTLY what Jackson needed. IF Jackson proves he belongs and is successful playing outside the Packers NEED to sign Kevin King in a cash strapped 2021 season becomes much, MUCH, less important.

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ricky's picture

August 27, 2020 at 06:47 am

Different players develop at different rates. Nick Collins didn't become a really good DB until his third year, then blossomed until his tragic injury derailed his possibly HOF career. I'm already on record on a Packer chat site that MVS will become a legitimate WR this year. Perhaps Jackson could be his counterpart for the defense. Though Gary could be the real surprise for the team. Training camp, where SB dreams dance in the heads of fans like me.

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dobber's picture

August 27, 2020 at 08:19 am

Agree completely in the sense that this team really needs it's 2nd and 3rd year players to make an impact if it wants to come anywhere close to last season's W/L total. The NFL is--and will continue to be--a draft and develop league. If you can't do that, there's not enough cap room to sign the players you need to keep you relevant.

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