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Packers will have shot at quality corner in upcoming draft

Packers will have shot at quality corner in upcoming draft

Despite solid enough numbers in run defense and rushing the passer, the Green Bay defense in 2016 will likely be remembered as a failure. 
 
Green Bay’s improbable run to the cusp of a Super Bowl berth ended in Atlanta with flashbacks to the team’s midseason struggles, when injuries besieged the secondary and a barrage of big plays followed. 
 
The team’s front seven actually graded out a top-10 unit, which would have seemed insane if before the season a time-traveler told you that Clay Matthews missed a month of action and finished with just 5 sacks, and that a scarily inexperienced group at inside linebacker would also have its share of injury adversity as well. 
 
On the defensive back end, Morgan Burnett contributed wherever the Pack lined him up, including as a linebacker in the team’s time packages. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, meanwhile, led the unit with five interceptions and earned a trip to wherever it is they play the Pro Bowl these days. 
 

Despite these positives, and others — like Nick Perry asserting for the first time in his career the prowess that led to his first-round selection, and another impressive season from Mike Daniels — the Packers had one glaring weakness: The big play. 
 
Other teams had a higher volume of injuries, sure, but Green Bay’s ruthlessly plagued the cornerback position. Sam Shields missed virtually the entire season, and likely played his last snap in the NFL, while second-year hopefuls Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins regressed mightily and struggled to stay healthy throughout. LaDarious Gunter was far and away the team’s most consistent full-time corner, but even his season was a highlight tape of few highs and plenty of lows. 

 
In virtually every statistical passing category on defense, from total yards to average yards per play to plays over 20- and 40-yards, opposing completion percentage and opposing touchdown percentage on throws, the Packers were near the bottom (or dead last) in the league. 
 
Though the Packers finished sixth in the NFL in sacks (with 40) and tied for fourth in interceptions (with 17), they couldn’t stop the big play. 
 
A return to mediocrity in 2017 isn’t out of the cards, but for the corner position to once again become a strength like it was during the days of Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, then a couple of things have to happen. For starters, Randall and Rollins need to stay healthy and re-claim the swagger that went along with their promising-if-unspectacular rookie seasons. 
 
Think, or rather hope, a projection similar to Davante Adams. His rookie season showed promise, his sophomore season was a relative disaster plagued by injuries and consistent undependability, and his third season bordered on breakout. 
 
If, and understandably it’s a big if, Randall and Rollins can make a similar jump, which more than anything requires they stay healthy, then the cornerback position won’t be pitiful as it was a season ago. 
 
But looking at the roster, and knowing opposing offenses’ proclivity for airing it deep against the Packer secondary, a step forward in 2017 likely requires some new blood. Ted Thompson could break from his normal mold and dip into free agency. More than likely he targets a cornerback in the draft. 
 
To that end, the Packers stumbled into a great crop of corners. The depth of the position just about ensures a quality corner will be waiting at pick No. 29, and there’s even reason to hope for an impact player in round two. 
 
The following is a group of players to familiarize yourself with as we move closer to April:
 
I’ll start by saying that as of now, it seems unlikely that Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, Washington’s Sidney Jones and Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey are still on the board when Green Bay picks. Another pair of names touted as definite first-rounders suited up for the Gators — Jalen “Teez” Tabor, an athletic ballhawk and Quincy Wilson, a full-framed boundary corner who excels in press coverage. 
 
What’s more likely for Green Bay, as I see it now, are either LSU’s Tre’Davious White or Ohio State’s Gareon Conley. White plays inside and out and Green Bay covets versatility in their defensive backfield. He’s also regarded as one of the best pure cover corners in the draft. He’s not the most physical corner, and his frame is lighter than many of the previously mentioned, but he adds extra value as a kick returner. 
 
As for Conley, he’s not the same athlete as his teammate, Lattimore, but he has the size (6-0, 195), and is rarely out of position. He’s also scheme versatile and has lots of upside. By most accounts he’s first-round stock. 
 
With the abundance of edge rushers and potential first-round quarterbacks, one of these players should be there at pick 29. If Thompson opts to add another piece to his front seven, the uncommon depth at corner means we could be in for a quality Day 2 selection. Names I’d keep an eye on: Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley, Tennessee’s Cam Sutton, UCLA’s Fabian Moreau. There are others out there like Rasul Douglas and Chidobe Awuzie, but they don’t appear to be as good of fits for Green Bay’s predominantly man-press scheme. 
 
The beauty of this time of year is the mystery. Much will change from now until April in terms of how these players are valued. But what’s certain is the Packers picked a good year to be in need of drafting a corner. It’s not every year that as many as seven guys are first-round talents.
 
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

They don't need another young guy - they NEED someone who is going to be a safety net NOW in case one or both Randall/Rollins don't improve.

All the rookie CBs in the world won't help them in 2017. HOW many seasons out of the last 5 have ended with a defensive collapse from a young guy?

Bert's picture

Ditto that Bearmeat.

KenEllis's picture

Nope.

We need another young guy who will come into his own in year 3 (2019 season) just like we HOPE Randall and Rollins will in their year 3.

By then, ARod will turning 37 and we should still be in the hunt.

Planning for the future is TT's forte.

al bundy's picture

No ted picked the wrong guys who lacked size and speed. Look at their injuries and there calf and groin. They cant take the punishment. Draft the best corner available and no ted they don't have to be from ucla or stanford. And get a free agent corner for experience. Shore up the pass d and move on.

Turophile's picture

For those that think a veteran is the safe choice to improve the Packers secondary, it is worth looking back to see how many vaunted vets have failed after a move to a new team. If you want to look back and see successes, you can find them. If you want to find failures, there are plenty of those too. There is always a reason for a team letting a vet go, and almost always it's down to the current and projected level of play (and health) matched to a price point.

Ted is far less interested in NOW, than Bearmeat. The long view is what he is more concerned with. I am not expecting Ted to bring in a veteran corner of any note. No Malcolm Butler, A.J.Bouye, Logan Ryan, Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamura or Morris Clairborne for the Packers.

There are several corners who could be great for the Pack in the draft. Among them, I like Ohio State's Gareon Conley in round 1, Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie in round 2, and UCLA's Fabian Moreau in 3 (sorry al bundy, but he is good). All of these can bring something when the Packers want them to block, all are 5'11" or 6'0", which the Packers prefer. Some corners (who are very talented), are less physical, like TreDavious White, or super athletes like Adoree' Jackson, who is a bit 'handsy' on the receivers and tends to play them, rather than look back for the ball. They are not the best fit for the Packers, imo.

In years past, Ted has trusted young guys to man a position more than most fans do, so I don't expect him to change his modus operandi for this draft. Expect a corner to be drafted in rounds 1-3 (probably in 1 or 2).

Drafted around the cornerback, there will likely be a pass rusher, and very possibly a TE. The value has to be there for this to happen, but there are numerous good prospects at OLB and TE, as well as CB, so it's likely.

stockholder's picture

I don't think TT will sign any vet corner. I'm against Conley and white in rd one. TT would be reaching again. And thats exactly why a lot of his picks are failing. Their reaches! He isn't going up after the player that is the perfect fit, or a gifted talent. The veterans know how to see the mis- match today. Usually it's speed. The Falcons drafted speed. There's no replacement for it. Dedication only last so long; until the mental/physical regression takes over. So my preference is: TT takes the best BPA. We want defense. Fine, just quit taking the slower 40 time players. Too many players have been busts after they get a award. Take the faster player. We see the faster player become the star in sports today. My Hope is TT sticks to the 40 times. 4.5 and below. Make-up speed only last so long. If you look at the packers Cbs the last few years'. You'll see the speed drafted. ( Shields, Williams, Collins.) If the speed isn't there, go to another position.

Hematite's picture

I certainly don't expect much to happen that will change the Packers fortunes on defense.
Thompson barely dips a toe in free agency and his draft history on the defensive side of the ball has been pathetic.
He will probably draft a 5'9" safety and force him into the corner back position in another attempt to look like the smartest guy in the room.
Plus he will come cheap..

Hematite's picture

I certainly don't expect much to happen that will change the Packers fortunes on defense.
Thompson barely dips a toe in free agency and his draft history on the defensive side of the ball has been pathetic.
He will probably draft a 5'9" safety and force him into the corner back position in another attempt to look like the smartest guy in the room.
Plus he will come cheap..

Hematite's picture

I certainly don't expect much to happen that will change the Packers fortunes on defense.
Thompson barely dips a toe in free agency and his draft history on the defensive side of the ball has been pathetic.
He will probably draft a 5'9" safety and force him into the corner back position in another attempt to look like the smartest guy in the room.
Plus he will come cheap..

Bert's picture

I'm beginning to doubt Ted's talent evaluation abilities. I just hope he actually gets the BPA at #29 regardless of position. If there is a pro-bowl quality CB or OLB at 29 great!! But, please just pick the BPA and get a guy with a high ceiling. Our CB an LB needs are immediate and I doubt if there will be a player at #29 who will make much of an impact in 2017. Our overall roster needs to be upgraded. Get a player!!!

al bundy's picture

Odd that most of his picks are pac 12. Perhaps his one guy he hires to evaluate talent lives out there and mails it in. If the pac 12 was relevant it would make sense

Ferrari Driver's picture

I like the draft and develop philosophy, but this team needs to take the Shields money and sign a FA corner
back who will be able to cover the oppositions number 1 receiver.

Use the draft infuse talent into the roster. Most premium picks of course will go in the first 10 picks, but then the Packers are used to drafting in the bottom 1/3 of the first round due to their success during the past two decades. Personally, I like their plight; makes for happy fans.

slit's picture

I'd much rather go after a veteran corner in free agency and grab an edge player in rd 1, such as Watt. Take a few shots later in the draft, or even post draft, on speed guys & maybe we get lucky and find another Tramon or Shields.

Point Packer's picture

Oh great, lets put our faith in TT drafting a CB. The last CB he hit on (Hayward), he let walk. And then he drafted two, count em, two - BUSTS!

croatpackfan's picture

The onlx bust here is - you. Sorry, but you are so unfair to the players which played injured whole season...

egbertsouse's picture

C'mon, man! Those two weren't any good before they were injured. They showed flashes last year but after 1 year of Dom coaching them up, they look like they never played football before.

EdsLaces's picture

I like the idea of T.J. Watt in the first and grabbing Rasul Douglas in the 2nd or 3rd. As a WVU fan I have seen pretty much all of his games and he is as instinctive as they come and had great hands for a db. Hail WV!

Turophile's picture

Rasul will not offer much in blocking. He does have great length, though, and while not a burner, he has a bit of a burst when he needs it. Not an ideal fit with the Pack, but he has stuff you can work with. Loved the batted pass that he turned into a pick against Oklahoma, he was in that receivers back pocket on that play.

Handsback's picture

Agree with the way your thinking....except the hail WV.

fthisJack's picture

they need to bring in a FA CB with experience. doesn't have to be one of the break the bank guys....but someone that can add some leadership and solid coverage. then draft a guy high. you can't expect a rookie to come in and play at a high level in his first year unless you are extremely lucky.
i would also like to see a trade or FA on the DL or OLB. improving the pass rush will help the secondary immensely. it would be great to get someone to push the pocket on the interior. the pass rush is almost exclusively from the outside...need someone in the QB's face.

Razer's picture

We will need an OLB/pass rusher in the first round. There are enough secondary guys to get talent in rounds 2 and 3.

Many are in love with TJ Watt. I am guessing that his body of work merits the 1st round hype? Or, that he played for Wisconsin or that his brother is good. Is this a pick for "potential" or can this guy step in and play?

stockholder's picture

Your right on Watt. I'll take Radick or Willis first. I'll bet TT trades down this year.

Since '61's picture

I'm OK with drafting a CB early but we need to sign a veteran FA CB who can come in and play now and help to stabilize our CB corps. With one veteran in place we can then let the best of Randall, Rollins and our draft pick man the other side. If we can draft or sign a pass rusher as well and stay healthy we might have enough of a defense for 2017. We could use depth at ILB and on the DL as well. But if we go into 2017 with adding just draft picks and UDFAs at CB I don't think our defense will improve very much unless we luck into the latest version of Darell Revis. Thanks, Since '61

porupack's picture

Yah, I think one solid FA vet CB to take the #1 receiver would sufficiently upgrade the secondary unit. Just pay the bucks and get an experienced #1 CB.
That would allow Randall, Rollins, Gunther to rotate in, and develop over the next year with less pressure...and rebuild confidence. Way too early to call them busts. I think at least 2 will have good careers. If GB is such the draft and develop franchise....then give it time to develop them rather than just dumping them and wasting picks and coaching. Many players start ascending in years 3 and 4.

I would put high draft stock in OLB, ILB. then get TE and RB just as a generic order (but let the BPA amongst those positions make the final choice).

rdent's picture

As much as one can hope for Ted to draft a big name player in the first & second rd, I expect him to do what he usually does, pick little known players in hopes they turn out and he will look like a genius, when was the last time Ted has looked like a genius?

4thand1's picture

Where's Spud Webb? He's really quick and can jump high.

al bundy's picture

Listen to us, again this year the team needs a lot. Ted never shores up one problem but half fixes them: pass run, ilb, pass d, run game. If he drafted a decent CB with side and actually spent a Nicole on free agent CB, you hot one area solved, money on the table and an entire draft to go fix other needs

Salvador Silva's picture

No... no. No!
Packers are better off taking a for sure quality corner... why? TT is not very good at selecting defense is one. Another is risking a high draft pick on a young corner that will still need to prove he belongs... can't wait for a player to develop, the Packers need to win now and besides Rollins/Randall are two high picks that GB is still waiting on.... Buffalo's Stephon Gilmore, Johnson of LA Rams and Claiborne of dallas are all available and a good position to spend some of that cash. In return gain experience and a guy ready to go on week 1. Gilmore is the guy and he can hold his own and TT would be smart to go this route...

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