GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 32: CB Josh Jackson (6-0, 196, third season, Iowa)
The phrase “make or break training camp” is overused this time of year, but those words could perfectly summarize what’s ahead for Jackson.
Entering the 2018 draft, Jackson was viewed as a potential first-round draft pick. Instead, the Packers selected him midway through the second round. As a rookie, he started 10 games, played 718 defensive snaps and broke up 13 passes. His 2019 season started off on the wrong foot. Literally. A foot injury during training camp opened the door for Chandon Sullivan to vault ahead of him on the depth chart. He never recovered. Jackson didn’t break up a single pass, played just 103 defensive snaps and twice was a healthy scratch.
“Part of it, too, is just us trying to find a permanent home for him,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said in November, when Jackson was in the midst of a seven-game stretch in which he played 13 defensive snaps. “Like, do we want him as an outside corner? He showed a lot of progress this offseason and the beginning of the year playing the nickel for us. That’s probably, ultimately, his best spot, which obviously Tramon (Williams is) entrenched there now. But he’s a versatile guy. He want to avoid him becoming the cliché, the jack of all trades master of none. He can play a little safety, he can play a little outside, he can play a little nickel. We want to find that permanent home for him.”
The lack of offseason practices certainly didn’t help Jackson lock in on whatever will be his permanent home. Will he contend with Sullivan for snaps in the slot? Will he be the No. 1 backup to Jaire Alexander and Kevin King at corner, with the potential for serious playing time if Alexander moves into the slot? What about a move to safety, which could mitigate any athletic concerns?
To his credit, Jackson never grumbled last season. He played well on special teams with six tackles; that’s two more than he had on defense.
“I think it’s by the way I was raised and being humble and sticking with the plan and not being out of my character just because I don’t have what I want right now,” Jackson said. “I’ve got to stay patient, stay focused and stick to the plan. I know there are better days ahead for me.”
Why he’s got a chance: The depth chart. Williams remains unsigned and the Packers neither drafted a corner nor signed one in free agency. However, Jackson – an interception machine at Iowa – must play a lot better than he did in 2018 to grab a role. According to Pro Football Focus and its best guess at coverage responsibilities, he allowed a 112.7 passer rating (66.7 percent completion percentage, four touchdowns, no interceptions), which ranked 76th of 86 corners with at least 300 coverage snaps.