Last in a Packers Prospects series looking at players Green Bay could select in the April 23-25 NFL draft.
GREEN BAY - It has been a long time since the Green Bay Packers took a tackle in the first round of the NFL draft (Derek Sherrod, 2011) — and a hair longer since they took one who started from Day 1 (Bryan Bulaga, 2010) — but this year might be the time for them to revisit the position.
Bulaga departed via free agency, leaving former Wisconsin tackle Rick Wagner manning that edge of the offensive line. But Wagner will be 31 in October and signed a two-year deal, meaning the team might be willing to take a player such as USC tackle Austin Jackson. Jackson is young and widely considered not ready to start immediately — but many like what he could develop into at the tackle position.
Jackson played on the left side at USC so the Packers would have to think he can flip sides. But the ability to develop behind a pro such as Wagner and under line coaches Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus, along with new senior assistant Butch Barry, could set Jackson up for success in Green Bay.
Age next season: 21.
Combine vitals: 5.07-second 40-yard dash, 27 bench press reps, 7.95-second three-cone drill.
Stats: 67.6 PFF run-block grade, 78.4 pass-block grade, 7 career sacks allowed.
Pro Football Focus analysis: After his true freshman 2017 season in which he struggled in his limited reps (175 snaps) and had just a 51.9 overall grade, many were wondering how Jackson would fare as USC’s starting left tackle in 2018. Jackson handled himself fairly well as both a pass protector and run blocker, posting a pass-block grade that ranked 38th among FBS left tackles and run-block grade that ranked 31st. … He was starting to look like a potential breakout candidate in 2019 that could end up be one of college football’s premier tackles, but he remained relatively the same player by going from 36th in overall grade to 31st.
Draftniks say: “Early-entry tackle prospect who is raw but gifted and is likely to be coveted by a variety of teams, thanks to his true left tackle traits. Jackson has loads of athletic ability and play talent that is waiting to be developed and harvested. Inconsistent hand placement and footwork could be exploited early on if teams try and rush him into the starting lineup, but issues are correctable. He's scheme-diverse with potential guard flexibility if he improves his strength. He could become an early starter but may offer a wider split between floor and ceiling than some teams might like.” — NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein.
Quotable: “It's a business. You have to show up every day, work to get better. There's some technique stuff he's showed me, but football in the '70s is a lot different than football now. But the biggest thing he's taught me is show up every day, work hard and make the most for yourself.” — On what Austin Jackson learned from his grandfather, former Packers guard Melvin Jackson