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2018 Is a Tipping Point for Damarious Randall

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2018 Is a Tipping Point for Damarious Randall

Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall is entering what is technically the last year of his rookie contract.  But the question of whether Randall will remain in Green Bay beyond 2018 contains a few wrinkles.

Since Randall was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft, the Packers can exercise the option to add a fifth year to his deal.  They will likely have until sometime in early May to do so.  Exercising that option keeps Randall in Green Bay until 2020 and gives the Packers another year to decide on his future with them.

In that sense, 2018 may not be as key to Randall's future in a Packers uniform, but this upcoming season still represents the proverbial fork in the road for the team and Randall.

After a promising rookie season in 2015, Randall has been on a roller coaster over the past two seasons.  His big-play ability has always been there, but he's gone througeeh some painful slumps that had many wondering if he would even survive the entirety of his rookie deal.

Randall suffered a core injury in 2016 that cost him six games.  In 2017, Randall was moved inside to the slot corner role after the departure of Micah Hyde.  He struggled early and had an incident during a game against the Chicago Bears in which he was benched after giving up a touchdown.  Randall then left the sideline, prompting questions about his attitude and commitment to the team.  

The following week, Randall logged a pick six against the Dallas Cowboys that helped the Packers win that game.  Results and winning often help many of us forget past misgivings.

Heading into this season, the Packers are still in need at the cornerback position.  In the last three drafts, they've spent three picks in the top two rounds addressing the position and still haven't solved that need.  

Randall will be a key piece at corner this season and the Packers are hoping that Kevin King, last year's second-round pick, comes back healthy and makes a jump in 2018.  Veteran Davon House played out a one-year deal last season and was average at best.  He may or may not be back to keep a veteran presence at the position. 

Beyond those three are Quinten Rollins (recovering from an Achilles injury last year), Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins, Demertri Goodson, Donatello Brown and Herb Waters.  That list isn't exactly keeping any offensive coordinators up at night.

New General Manager Brian Gutekunst may look to free agency to add more depth and experience or he may opt to use an early pick on a top cornerback in this year's draft.  Either way, the Packers need Randall and he'll get plenty of opportunity to make himself a good sum of money.

Randall led the Packers with four interceptions last season and had a stretch with an interception in three-straight games.  He has two interceptions in five career playoff games.  As mentioned, his playmaking ability isn't the question.

Can the arrival of new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine be of benefit to Randall?  We'll know more once we see what Pettine puts on the field.  The Packers defense middled under previous Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers so any improvement would seem to benefit all involved.

Yes, Randall comes with questions about his attitude but there's no question about his confidence.  When put in the right situations, Randall has proven more valuable than not for the Packers.  The team needs to exercise the fifth-year option and look to keep him beyond that.

The question is, would you rather keep Randall and all that comes with him or move on after 2018 and continue trying to find another corner of the future?

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (52) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

The timing is bad, but that's life. I'd exercise the option and keep him. Physically, he's Nick Collins, and Collins took a few years to shine as well.

Turophile's picture

The loss of vets to FA, Shields forced retirement, Rollins looking too slow for the NFL, mean the Packers really have to go with Randall. They cannot afford to have both their top two 2015 picks flame out, and they really need Randall to play where he is best, in the slot.

The Packers will still need another starter quality boundary CB, even if they keep Randall. That could be an early draft pick (again) or a veteran combined with a slightly later draft pick there.

The TKstinator's picture

Agreed.
Clearly, 23 has some talent.
My hope is that Pettine gets the best out of him.
(As well as from EVERY player on the defense.)
“Hope” vs. “Expectation” is the continuum ranging from the Kool Aid drinkers to the Chicken Littles, IMHO.

John Kirk's picture

Yes, he's Nick Collins athletically. It's ironic that Nick was a college CB moved to S, and Randall a college S moved to CB. Would like to see Damarious play where he played in college. Maybe, he's another Nick Collins back there.

carlos's picture

I like that idea. Safety may utilize his ball hawking. He’s a decent corner who does seem to have an upside. We’ll see where the chips fall.

flackcatcher's picture

Realistically, the Packers have no choice but to keep Randall giving how thin they are at CB. (Sigh, shakes head.....) Jason, you are flat out wrong about Randall's field play against the Bears. Randall did nothing wrong in his coverage, Brice was peaking in the backfield and got caught, he had over the top, Randall was the trail. Brice was pulled and replaced with Evans for being so undisciplined. It is worth noting, that Whitt strongly defended Randall, as did the other veteran DB who were on the sideline, or on the field on that play.

jasonperone's picture

Let me offer you some context. Randall was one of 11 players on the field when a touchdown was surrendered to the Bears. Football is a team sport. Therefore, all 11 players surrendered a touchdown, Randall included. Randall was benched immediately after. That’s my exact head space there.

Spock's picture

Jason, After the game the defensive coaches were saying that it was NOT Randall's responsibility on the play. IMO he was benched because he got angry that it LOOKED like it was his fault and it pissed him off. These are very young players and some mature faster than others. To his credit he played well the rest of the season and I think the incident gave him a "come to Jesus" moment and he got his head on straight. IMHO I believe going forward he will be just fine as I think he learned his lesson on what being a professional is after his experience and talking with McCarthy.

flackcatcher's picture

I was on the sideline for that game Jason. If you watch the TV coverage, you can see Burnett telling Brice to get back out of the box of the early in the first quarter. Bears knew Brice's tendencies, both Clinton-Dix and Burnett kept telling Brice to get deep on the field, and on the sideline. Pro football is a game of match ups and the Bears got what they wanted. What is ironic is the Packers had the right call on the play. Combo cover 2 bracketed would have led to a pick if Brice had not freelanced. And Randall was benched because he mouth off to Perry. No player can mouth off to a coach on the sideline. Randall was livid because he told Brice to get deep, he call the pattern and Brice ignored him. That's why he was upset, and blew up. The coverage of what happened afterwards was accurate. (Expect for the language. Real salty. Very Marine like :)

jasonperone's picture

Good insights. I wasn't there so it's good to get the actual scoop on what went down, we don't always get that. Hopefully the greater point of the piece (not the Chicago game) came across, in the end. I didn't mean to get into a semantical discussion about that part.

flackcatcher's picture

No problem Jason. Just adding a bit of context, that's all.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

peeked

The TKstinator's picture

Piqued?

flackcatcher's picture

yeah. Too lazy to change it.

Jonathan Spader's picture

If you don't change it that's when you catch a lot of flack....

The TKstinator's picture

I see what you did there.

carlos's picture

That’s one thing about football, someone’s undisciplined mistake can make you look real bad.

carlos's picture

Hey Flackcatcher, how do you get on the sidelines. How cool is that. It’d be a dream come true for me. They say the sideline view is unreal. So fast and the contact brutal. Even scary. My friend who was a close friend to Marriuchi (sp) was on the sidelines a lot and at practice caught passes from Favre. He said even with the best gloves his hands were all bruised.

Nick Perry's picture

It's to bad they have to make the decision by May only because it makes the decision that much more difficult IMO. Looking at the Packers current group of CB's it's hard to imagine them not extending Randall simply because there's just not much there. IF Rollins comes back he'll be a safety IMO, at least that would be my hope. The current group of UDFA don't give me much hope either. Sure those UDFA made a few plays last season when they played, but your bound to get lucky every once in a while.

As far as House is concerned I'm not very interested in bringing him back again. I'd rather sign Tramon Williams for example who has some experience in Pettine's system. Not only that he's a better CB.

The Packers still don't really know what they have in King. Yes he showed some things to give Packers fans hope, but he also had surgery on a shoulder he had issues with during his college career. Reading things like King's shoulder kept popping out of place when making a tackle doesn't exactly make me feel confident he'll hold up. To make things worse good ole "In Ted We Trust Thompson" passed on T.J. Watt who just so happens to play the position the Packers HAVE to draft early this year AND we still need to draft another CB. So many needs, so few picks....BIG Sigh....

Exercise the option on Randall and HOPE it works out. I mean we've been playing the "Hope Game" with Thompson's picks for years now. We may as well do it with Randall given the current depth at the position.

stockholder's picture

NP- I still would keep House. (He played better with his injury.) Than ever before. I'm not ready to give up on anyone here. Forget Williams. If you want a TJ Watt you won't get a cb. If you want help for the secondary , you take a safety. Because were losing Burnett. And the worry is their just not fast enough. The potential for boom or bust picks are very obvious for these positions. So the best solution is find the player that will help the team the most. Regardless of the depth.

Nick Perry's picture

Clearly with Thompson it was mostly bust but I hear ya. Then again maybe with those 3rd and 4th round picks used on Biegel and Adams we could have drafted a CB and still took Watt in the first.

RCPackerFan's picture

"To make things worse good ole "In Ted We Trust Thompson" passed on T.J. Watt who just so happens to play the position the Packers HAVE to draft early this year AND we still need to draft another CB"

Yes Thompson passed on Watt. I loved Watt as much as anyone. But lets remember that Watt was good, but wasn't great. He has 7 sacks in his rookie year. Lets remember that of those 7 sacks 3 came against the Browns. I saw in 2 of his games that he had a sack, that no one blocked him. His sack against GB came when Hundley basically ran right into him when Watt came in on a delayed blitz from ILB. He wasn't a dominating edge rusher, like most want us to believe.

King when healthy was our best CB. Biegel was hurt. His rookie year would get an incomplete.

We can't grade these draft picks based on their rookie years. We will see in 2-3 years which decision was the best one between the King/Biegel vs Watt.

If you want to harp on Thompson about taking King over Watt. You should really harp on him for taking Biegel over Carl Lawson. Lawson was taken 8 spots behind Biegel and finished with 8.5 sacks.

Nick Perry's picture

Common RC....Please STOP defending Thompson in any capacity for what he did the last 5 years to this team. He SUCKED any depth right out of it and couldn't fix the defense with HOW MANY picks the last 3 or 4 seasons. Now look at the ONE thing he could do, draft a WR and he actually let that position go. And OMG...WHERE is a TE in this offense?? We had one for one season since Finley was hurt. Why does it take any other GM one season to draft a position as important as TE and he just couldn't give what his HC actually begged for publicly. The man was a TOOL who should have been gone years ago!! Rodgers saved this mans rear end from being fired YEARS ago. He should have and would have been gone on 31 other teams, but with Murphy it only took till Rodgers was about to turn 35 in the upcoming season. Considering he won the SB at 27 you have to say WTF!!!

I said the same thing about Lawson months ago, mostly the Monday after week 3 when he pounded the Packers for 2.5 of his sacks. Hell if that had been Hundley back there Lawson would have had probably 6 or 7 sacks that day.

RCPackerFan's picture

How am I defending Thompson? Basically all that I said was lets give this draft class time to see what happens. You can't grade a draft after its rookie year.

Trust me on draft day I wanted Watt as much as anyone. But on that day I think they made the right move. Trading down and picking up an extra pick. They ended up with both King and Biegel. Both players dealt with injuries their rookie year. We will see in the future whether or not that was the right move. But until then we can't truly say if it was the right or wrong move.

4thand1's picture

Randall needs to stay period. He has great ball instincts IMO and makes plays. I believe he was just another player lost in Dom Capers system of confusion. I'd hate to see him leave and become successful somewhere else like Hyde and Hayward.

dobber's picture

If there's anything the last couple seasons have taught us, it's that even if you've got 5 playable CBs on your roster, it may not be enough. I think using the 5th year option is a no-brainer (it's non-binding, up til the start of the new league year next year, right?). Whether his future is at CB or at S, they need playable bodies and he's been more than that in his recent past.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The 5th year option for CBs drafted after 11 was $8.52M. If he is an adequate CB he is probably worth it for 2019. Will increase a bit. No, it is guaranteed for injury only and can be rescinded after the season for skill and cap. No-brainer for me, too .

stockholder's picture

If there's anything the last couple seasons have taught us, it's that even if you've got 5 playable CBs on your roster, it may not be enough. *** Exactly Right.*** Just like Wrs. You can't pay 10 mil. Plus, to everyone! Don't over-pay the position. We must stay with the development of Randall, Rollins, King, and hope they become that player you can Pay.

flackcatcher's picture

A lot is going to depend of the health of the returning group. Signing T. Williams and resigning House would be smart if the Packers can afford it. Looks like the team will lose Burnett in FA (nuts). After the last two seasons finding 5 on the entire position group would feel like a luxury to this team.

RCPackerFan's picture

Randall was a different player after his benching earlier in the year. After that game he became our best CB.

If Randall could play like he did after that benching, he is a guy that could be great.

One of the most impressive things I saw from Randall was late in the year he became physical. He smashed a WR to force an incomplete pass. If he plays with that physicality, he could become a number 1 type of CB. One of the biggest knocks on him is his toughness. Running away from plays vs running up to them.

Hopefully a new defensive system and coaches will be a change in the right direction for Randall. He has the skills to be great. Hopefully the new coaches can get that out of him!

Handsback's picture

Has anyone noticed that a lot of this year's CBs draft prospects have 40 times in the 4.5s? Rollins has been downgraded quite a bit because he's too slow. (He ran similar times at his Combine) Not sure what his speed is now after two year's of injuries, but my point is Rollins had/has a good enough athletic ability to be a solid corner. He may never be an All Pro, but solid as in House solid. Green Bay still has House, Waters, Hawkins and maybe Pipkins as those back ups. What they need are stars/playmakers.
Randall has the speed, and if his head is on right could be an All Pro with his talent. The same can be said for King. Both of those guys can be very good corners and solve some of the issues of staying with receivers. Frankly, Randall seems like that classic slow learner....and his play towards the end of the year was very good. So yes you keep him and find your other starter in the mix that you have or get an emerging player from FA if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

stockholder's picture

Right. 4.5s. And most still want a CB. But with the loss of Burnett. The depth just isn't there. The mistakes are. While I see names like MJ Stewert compared to Mike Hyde. And Carlton Davis compared to Sherman. I still see the need for a safety like James at #1. Or Reid #2 before cb. And the biggest question is a QB may be picked ahead of them. Because one should be taken.

dobber's picture

40 times up til now are mostly projected or based on older results. Until we get to the Combine and Pro Days, we don't know what the 40 times really look like.

stockholder's picture

Correct. But were looking at pure speed and History. Not combine workout warriors. (Fast track, Shoes, track coaches etc.) Please keep that in mind when making the selection for your picks.

HankScorpio's picture

You could write this article about almost every player on the defense. They all have something to prove with a new DC and new GM.

My assessment of the overall defensive talent would tend to skew a little higher than CHTV commentator average. I think Randall is going to be fine. I think Pettine will regulate the amount of stuff he feeds the entire defense and they will do less, but do it better. So we'll see DBs asking whose guy just ran free into the end zone far less.

I also think that the year one washout effect we've seen for nearly every rookie under Capers is going to be far less severe. For the same reason.

Spock's picture

^THIS^

The TKstinator's picture

Me too.
See above.

4thand1's picture

The Packers defense is at a tipping point. This defense has been in a sharp decline for years. Now it's about to ascend , it really only has one way to go. As good as the Eagles defense was, it got torched in the SB. But it made the one big play it had to to win the game, something the Packers couldn't do all year.A defense doesn't have to be great to win anymore, just make important stops during a game.

dobber's picture

The statement we've heard repeatedly in recent years was, "can it really get any worse?" The answer is, yes, it can go from complete disarray in coverage/pass rush to offering no resistance whatsoever vs. the run or the pass. It can get worse. That said, I think we've reached an inflection point where it's likely to improve if only due to ascending talent available and what we perceive to be a more aggressive mindset.

John Kirk's picture

It's hard to blame Damarious Randall for what he's been as a Green Bay Packer. He was a huge reach in Round 1...as a CB. He was a highly touted S prospect that, of course, we converted to his unnatural position. This is the same thing done with Micah Hyde. Wrong position.

Keep Randall and move him to his natural postion...Safety. Let Burnett walk and use Damarious there.

This from his old NFL.com draft bio is interesting:

Sources Tell Us "I have him as the top safety in this draft so that should tell you what I think of his ability to play with his size. Just give me a good player." NFC defensive backs coach

NFL Comparison Jimmie Ward

Bottom Line Randall is considered undersized for the safety position and some teams have him projected as a cornerback. While he has the speed and athletic traits to transition to cornerback, his cover skills and technique need quite a bit of work to be ready for the NFL level. Randall has a nose for the ball and a strong desire to make an aggressive tackle in space, so there could still be teams that give him a legitimate shot at safety, where he carries a higher draft grade.

---It's going to take some time to undo all the things done wrong over the last several years here. While it would be harder to swallow him staying as a CB, I'd be more than happy to see him where he belongs. This could be a Micah Hyde to Buffalo production increase without Damarious having to leave the team, just his position.

EDIT: Does anyone know if we ever tried Randall at S? If we drafted the top S prospect and just stubbornly said he's going to play CB for us without even looking at him where he was more natural would be even worse. Who made the decision to play him at CB over S? Ted? Right after the draft you get the immediate presser saying a guy is going to play "x" position but who is the one deciding that? I know Ted drafted him to play CB. What input did Whitt and Perry have into that decision? Any? It seems rigid to take a guy who played S in college and then just automatically make him a CB without even seeing what he might be at S. I know he was drafted to play CB but it seems like we always were doing things like this.

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Right on JK.

I've been thinking that Randall should be a SS for years. He's not quite as big as Burnett, but he's much more athletic. Use him with HHCD in the back end - I think he'll shine there.

The problem is that this leaves us with yet another problem at CB....

John Kirk's picture

I like him at FS better than strong due to size. Ted talked about him liking him as a guy who knew angles and the fact he was a baseball center fielder. That is the kind of talk that would make you think Ted was speaking to skills of a free safety not a CB.

You're right, though...should they move him to S, CB is just that much more glaring. Like the draft bio said of him, he was a ways off from being an NFL ready CB. Weird he would be better as a rookie than over the next two seasons. Very confusing player. Perhaps, he's learned what he needed to learn and is now ready to be a quality NFL CB?

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Yeah, I thought about FS - but we already have a FS.... and had a SS. Very strange pick by Ted.

Regardless, if Randall balls out wherever Pettine puts him, he's going to make himself a very rich man.

Colin_C's picture

I do think he could be a great safety, but in college he often played man coverage at the LOS as a safety. So essentially he was playing CB at times. I think he's talented enough he can play both positions well. His greatest improvement last season was that he became much more physical with receivers. I remember the Browns game OT, when it was 3rd down for the Browns. Kizer wanted to go to Gordon, but Randall was playing so tight that Kizer didn't make the throw and panicked when his first read was taken away.

On the topic of moving to players to safety though, I'd give it a shot with Rollins. What have you got to lose with him at this point?

John Kirk's picture

On Rollins this is an all too common theme with our failed draftees. We end up position switching them just to see. Datone gets moved to LB...Mike Neal out to LB... just wild reaches in an attempt for a guy to not be a total bust for us.

Rollins was a guy I thought was going to have a bright future. Seemed to be like Hayward was...always around the ball and could make the big play to get it.

He's not fast enough for CB but maybe his lack of speed wouldn't hurt him as much on the back end?

I'm not a guy who lives off NFL.com draft bios as gospel, but, again, here's an interesting view of him...

Scouts wonder whether he loves football enough to keep working at it. Must answer questions about his long speed.

Draft Projection Round 2 or 3

Sources Tell Us "We are grading him as a safety. He can play cornerback too but he has to be protected a little bit because I don't think he's fast enough. I think he's a 2nd round safety but a 4th round cornerback." - AFC defensive backs coach

---it seems to me we reached on both players for what we wanted them to be. Where Rollins natural position was CB, he belonged as a S...where Randall belonged at his natural position of S we switched him to CB. Wrong on both...and Hyde makes 3 players, if it's true that Randall is a better S and Rollins also.

Surprised Ted would take a guy who some questioned his love of football. I always thought he prioritized that in a player?

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Let's call a spade what it is: While Capers absolutely deserved to be fired before 2013, Ted should have left after 2014. The personnel acquisitions in Green Bay have been... not good overall since then. And not great from 11-13 either.

Colin_C's picture

I argued last season that Randall was our best cover corner. Not a terribly impressive feat, but still it's something. Barring a big name FA CB coming to town, I expect Randall to again be our best corner. Not because everyone will be as bad as last year, but because Randall will be much better. He has the potential to be a really great player, and I think this is the season he becomes that. Call it unfounded optimism, but the signs are there for it to happen.

stockholder's picture

Well said.! I expect Randall to be the best corner too. I don't get where everybody thinks were going to get Charles Woodson in the draft. Woodson ran 4.4. And no way in FA. Moving Randall to Safety now is plain BS. He's not the hitter you need at SS. Same about Rollins. Just back-up. Several people that announce games said," Randall and Rollins had a bright future". But injuries do slow people down. I'm sure the packers stick with them. The biggest mistake would be to move them now.

bodei1newbie1's picture

i'm not a big fan of randell or shield what the packers need is a tall defensive back with length like king why do they draft short guys?

Jonathan Spader's picture

They Packers don't draft CBs under 5' 11". Check your stats. Also Shields was a UDFA he wasn't drafted. King wasn't drafted for just his height he's also fast... Just like Randall and Shields.

MnPackerFan's picture

randall is too small 5' 10.5" and not nearly physical enough to be a strong safety. He finally seemed to become more physical this year (maybe got stronger). He also seemed to need to learn alot and learning safety seems to take longer. He likely will never be a great cornerback (not big or strong enough) but I think he can lock some guys down.

bodei1newbie1's picture

ok jonathan so they didn't draft shields but you have to remember the times shield play against megatron and taller receivers so my point is this draft taller defensive back and king true he's fast but he's also tall with length case closed

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