Catching up with Chad Jackson


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You might not recognize him, but the guy there with the ball in his hands was once considered the future at the wide receiver position for the Patriots.

Chad Jackson has since become the posterboy for the team’s problems in the NFL draft. The Patriots traded up into the 36th spot in 2006 (and out of the spot where Packers star Greg Jennings was taken) to get Jackson, whose athleticism immediately jumped off the page, but whose performance as a pro never has.

ESPN AFC East man Tim Graham caught up with Jackson at the Bills minicamp last week, four years removed from his selection in the second round in 2006. Jackson was cut loose by the Patriots just prior to the 2008 season, and joined the Broncos that October. Denver cut him last September, right after the final cutdown, and he spent the season out of football. He signed with Buffalo March 31.

Graham asked Jackson what he could’ve done differently in New England, and the receiver joked, “Not get hurt. When I got hurt, I fell back. I
tore my ACL. I hurt my hamstring. Then they brought Randy Moss and Wes
Welker and Donte Stallworth and all those guys in. I was put on the
backburner. I’m just trying to make up for lost time now.”

That draft-day trade was an unmitigated disaster for the Patriots. They dealt the 52nd pick and 75th pick to Green Bay for No. 36.


The Packers took Jennings, who’s compiled about 4,000 yards and scored 28 touchdowns in his four years as a pro, at 52; And Jason Spitz, a lineman with 45 career starts, at 75.

Jackson caught 13 balls as a Patriot.

So obviously, neither the club nor the player have particularly fond memories of their time together. For the Patriots, Jackson was a frustrating player to deal with, and the miss on this pick forced them to sink major resources into the position in 2007 and deal with a major deficiency at that spot in 2006. For the player, the injury woes were just a part of the problem.

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“There’s two sides to every story,” Jackson told Graham. “I won’t get into all
that. But I had my opportunity, and I didn’t take full advantage of
it.”

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Jackson.

I can still remember the team’s rookie minicamp in 2006, where Jackson put on a show that had to be seen to be believed, and quickly became my cautionary tale on why not to put too much stock into those T-shirts-and-shorts practices.

But the guy has always been a physical specimen and, even after all this, he’s still just 25 years old. Maybe this time, it works for him. Maybe it doesn’t.

I can say that I think Jackson seemed like a pretty good guy back then, who was just immature and probably not quite ready for grind of the NFL. We’ll see what happens from here.