While many believed the Green Bay Packers would use a pick in the 2016 NFL draft on a running back, that selection never came, which seemed like good news for Eddie Lacy, James Starks and John Crockett.
Yet, the Packers still managed to add some competition to the backfield in the form of rookie free agent Don Jackson, a two-year starter from the University of Nevada, who offers a nice blend of size and speed at 5-10, 210 pounds to along with with a forty-time of 4.47.
Although Jackson racked up 527 carries for 2,368 yards and 19 total touchdowns for the Wolf Pack, he’s still a raw and talented player that has plenty of upside. As this article references, Jackson didn’t start playing football until his senior season in high school.
Jackson then went to junior college before moving onto Nevada, where he rushed for 957 yards and seven touchdowns (4.4 YPC) as a junior, as well as 1,079 yards and eight touchdowns (4.7 YPC) as a senior. And even though he was not invited to the NFL combine, his forty-time (4.47), who have tied him for the fifth-fastest time among running backs.
(Here is a highlight video of Jackson that also includes some highlights of teammate James Butler. Jackson is No. 6).
As you saw if you watched the video above, Jackson is an explosive player, with breakaway speed that’s evident. Lacy and Starks are both very good NFL backs, at least when they are in top form, but neither has the kind of home-run speed Jackson does.
Lacy runs the 40 in 4.57, Starks runs it in 4.5 and Crockett, the third-back at the end of the last season, runs it at 4.62. That’s one reason why the addition of Jackson is intriguing. He could add some juice that the Packers backfield has been missing.
The rookie certainly isn’t going to unseat Starks or Lacy, who seems to be serious about weight loss this offseason. Yet, there is a chance to could beat out Crockett for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
Crockett, who like Jackson, was undrafted out of North Dakota State in 2015, started out last season on the practice squad before being promoted to the Packers’ active roster later in the season. He finished the regular season with nine carries for 21 yards. His longest run was 12 yards.
Jackson, who totaled more than 1,100 yards in each of the past two seasons, despite having just 23 receptions in his college career, offers a little different skill set than Crockett, which could be of interest to the Packers. He is shifty and explosive and even though he didn’t catch a ton of passes, he shows the ability to do so, if given the opportunity.
It remains to be seen if Jackson can work his way onto the roster, but regardless, he should provide some healthy competition for the backfield and even if he doesn’t make the 53, he is an ideal prospect to develop on the practice squad.