The Packers traded down to the end of the 2nd round to reach for Nebraska RB Brandon Jackson. This will either be a great move or come back to haunt GM Ted Thompson and the Packers because they passed on RBs Kenny Irons, Chris Henry, and Brian Leonard.
It might be easy to compare Jackson with fellow Nebraska RB Ahman Green, but there really is no comparison. Green put up monster numbers at Nebraska while Jackson only started the last half of 2006.
Back in March I began considering which running back the Packers should select if they were unable to select either RB Adrian Peterson or RB Marshawn Lynch in the 1st round. I only got as far as evaluating RB Michael Bush before I realized that I really didn't like any running back after Peterson or Lynch, at least not enough to consider drafting in the 2nd or 3rd round. I was hoping that Jackson or Notre Dame RB Darius Walker might be available in the 4th or 5th round to provide some competition, but apparently Thompson thought much higher of Jackson then I did.
What everyone should really like about Jackson is that he is a very good receiver out of the backfield. There some running backs such as Ohio State RB Antonio Pittman who are very good running, but very few that proved that they are quality receivers too. Most of Jackson's production came in his last nine games because he was in a running back committee for the first five games (Nebraska played 14 games in 2006?), so his stats deserve a little boost overall to reflect a full season. Plus his stats weren't padded by weak early season games.
Still there is plenty not to like about Jackson. He can't stay healthy (he missed a lot of time during 2004 and 2005) and he didn't start a lot of games in his college career. Last summer Jackson was sharing playing time with three other running backs at Nebraska. One year later he has a chance to start in the NFL? Seems like a longshot.
This is Thompson's second consecutive reach. I don't think reaching for a player that isn't projected to be taken so early isn't a big problem, but it does take away the opportunity to add some additional picks and still draft the player you wanted all along. Since all draft choices don't work out, adding more picks helps increase the chance that more players will work out and the overall roster won't have any holes. However there are lots of examples of players who appear to be a reach until they play in the NFL. For example Mike Sherman reached to select LB Nick Barnett, but that worked out pretty well.
Jackson has his flaws, but he really is a complete running and receiving back. I considered him my third favorite running back, but there is a big drop-off after Lynch and Peterson. If he had gone back for his senior season and repeated his junior performance, he would have been a 1st round talent. Unfortunately that is a big if. It would have been better to seen the Packers take a chance on Jackson later in the draft.