Unpacking Future Packers: No. 73 Warren Jackson

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Next up in the Unpacking a Future Packers countdown is Warren Jackson. The Colorado State University wide receiver checks in at number 73 in the countdown.

Colorado State has quietly produced some NFL caliber wide receivers over the last five years.

In the 2016 NFL Draft, Rashard Higgins was selected in the fifth round by the Cleveland Browns. During the 2018 draft, Michael Gallup was selected in the third round by the Dallas Cowboys. Bisi Johnson was selected in the seventh round during the 2019 draft. Preston Williams went undrafted in 2019. 

The 2021 draft will see another Rams receiver hear his name get called. That receiver is Warren Jackson

Jackson became the focal point of CSU’s offense in 2019, catching 77 passes for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns. Those are pretty impressive numbers, considering he missed two games due to an injury. 

“He took on that leadership role in 2019,” Kevin Lytle, the sports reporter for the Coloradoan said. “That year he emerged as that guy. Whenever they needed a big play or a first down they were throwing to Warren Jackson every time.”

It’s hard to miss Jackson when he’s on the field. He stands at 6’6 and towers over cornerbacks. He utilizes his long arms and frame to outmuscle defenders at the catch point. 

With his physicality and huge catch radius, there is rarely a 50-50 ball that Jackson doesn’t come down with. He makes contested catches look like a walk in the park. 

“He has the go and get it ability,” Lytle said. “He just has the ability to rise up and grab it. His height stands out to you. He has great hands. 

His catch radius is remarkable. He’s a 6’6”, with real long arms and big strong hands. There are balls where your eyes tell you that nobody is reaching that and he finds a way to get there. He can really extend. That’s his best skill. He does a great job of boxing out defensive backs.”

A play that best showcased Jackson’s ability to go up and get the pigskin occurred against New Mexico. 

Jackson finished that game with nine passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson finished every game in 2019 with over 50 yards receiving. 

In terms of his ability after the catch, Jackson isn’t going to provide huge chunk plays after the catch. However, with his size and strength, he can be a load to take down for defensive backs. 

A creative playcaller could put Jackson in favorable situations to showcase his ability to do damage with the ball in his hands. 

“He’s a pretty strong runner,” Lytle said. “Adding that strength made him very hard to tackle in the open field. His speed is a little underrated. I mentioned the New Mexico play, he just pulls away from defenders. He can be a nightmare after the catch because he’s so big and strong. He can kind of just shove away those smaller defensive backs. He learned to use his body more in 2019.”

As a route runner, Jackson isn’t the most explosive out of his breaks. His change of direction skills are lacking. It will be interesting to see how Jackson performs through the draft process. His agility and quickness will be something that NFL teams will be monitoring. 

If you’re going to play wide receiver for Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers, you need to be willing to stick your nose in as a run blocker. 

With Jackson’s size and strength, it should come as no surprise that he’s a straight-up bully out on the boundary as a run blocker. 

“He’s a really good blocker,” Lytle said. “Whenever you’d ask Mike Bobo (former CSU head coach) about Warren Jackson he’d always circle back to the run blocking. Jackson is a very good run blocker, but he’s also willing. There are a lot of receivers that don’t necessarily want to block. That’s not the fun part of the job for them. But Jackson was more than willing to go and mix it up to open a hole for a running back. He does the dirty work.”

Fit with the Packers

It’s too early to tell if Brian Gutekunst has a “type” of wide receiver he targets. He’s only drafted three wide receivers during his three years as general manager. 

The three wide receivers he has drafted were bigger-bodied wideouts. At 6’6, Jackson fits the bill. 

Jackson’s role for the Packers would be that of a big-bodied possession receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, 49 of his 77 receptions in 2019 went for first downs.

His calling card would be as a jump-ball specialist in the red zone. His size, long arms, and ability to bully cornerbacks at the catch point would make him a matchup nightmare in the red zone.

“Jackson’s biggest asset is his size, strength, and catch radius,” Lytle said. “When you get in the red zone area when you have very small windows, he can extend those windows. He can go get the ball. That’s going to be very valuable for him. You can’t teach size and he has that.”

Since Jackson opted out of the 2020 season, the pre-draft process will be huge for him. As it stands right now I envision Jackson going in the fourth round, which could be the sweet spot for the Packers to take their first receiver in the draft, or for them to double-dip at the position.  

If the Packers fail to address the wide receiver position in the first three rounds, Jackson could be an intriguing target for Gutekunst on day three. With his size and ability to go up highpoint the football, Jackson would give Aaron Rodgers another weapon to target inside the 20. 

 

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