Best & Worst Case Scenarios: Safeties

From Nick Collins' fourth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance to the end of Brandon Underwood's time in Green Bay, we take a look at the best and worst possible outcomes for the Packers safeties in 2011.

It's time for the fifth annual Best and Worst Case Scenarios for every player on the Green Bay Packers roster, a feature that goes back to the days when Railbird Central had its own domain.

I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition.

As one final note, I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not what's best for the team.

Nick Collins

  • Best-case scenario: After notching seven and six interceptions in 2008 and 2009, Collins only had four in 2010. That declining trend reverses in 2010 when the veteran safety gets back into the six or seven range once again. He's a more well-rounded safety in 2011 as well. With the trust the coaching staff places in Morgan Burnett, it frees them to use Collins' athletic ability in different way this season they couldn't last year when Charlie Peprah's limitations likewise affected how they deployed Collins. This season Collins is used more on blitzes and in the box than in the past resulting in more tackles and sacks and impact plays than usual. The Pro Bowl is a given.
  • Worst-case scenario: Collins doesn't have a bad season by any means, but it appears once again he hit his peak in the 2008/2009 time frame. He's in the same range of four interceptions he was last year, and he has to make way more tackles than usual because of a leaky run defense. For the first time in four years, he's not invited to the Pro Bowl.

Morgan Burnett

  • Best-case scenario: After having his season ended by a knee injury last year, it's a positive that he's able to stay healthy and start all season long. But the cherry on top is that Burnett is the safety the Packers had anticipated he would be when they drafted him last season. He shows great range and anticipation and a toughness he didn't display a year ago. He has at least five interceptions and shows he's a future Pro Bowler.
  • Worst-case scenario: Burnett is more of a tease than a sure thing. He flashes great athleticism from time to time, but it's mingled in with mental mistakes and over-aggressiveness. Burnett gets beat deep more often than he should and he gets ran over in the run game. The good news is that mistakes from a mental aspect can be fixed. The Packers hope he picks up his game in 2012.

Charlie Peprah

  • Best-case scenario: It doesn't matter if Nick Collins or Morgan Burnett gets hurt, Peprah is the top back up to both of them. Or if Morgan Burnett happens to struggle, they can fall back on Peprah. He's steady, reliable and solids, just like he was a year ago. He can play in the box with the best of them, and doesn't get beat any more than average. The Packers can win with him in the lineup.
  • Worst-case scenario: Because Collins and Burnett are so good, the Packers have little use for Peprah on defense this season. But at least he provides peace of mind. Since he doesn't play much on defense, he's one of the core players on special teams, however, and a very valuable and contributing member to the team.

Jarrett Bush

  • Best-case scenario: The only player listed at two positions (cornerback being the other). The Packers decide to keep only three true safeties on their roster and thus, Bush becomes the de facto fourth safety, much like the end of last season. But with the way Dom Capers like to use safeties as the dime defensive back, Bush stills sees regular playing time on defense in addition to his role as special teams ace.
  • Worst-case scenario: Bush can play either cornerback or safety in a pinch, but he's pretty much the last resort. It would take two injuries in any given game for him to see time on defense, though his special teams play remains solid.

Brandon Underwood

  • Best-case scenario: The move to safety seems to be just what the doctor ordered. Underwood gets one final, last chance to prove himself and makes the best of it with a consistent role on special teams and the fourth safety. He doesn't play a ton on defense, but when he does, he impresses. Perhaps best of all, he stays out of the police blotter.
  • Worst-case scenario: Even if he's not arrested any more, Underwood's divorce and continuing court dates to resolve his most recent incident are a distraction. He's a headache and a cancer the Packers don't need, and they cut him after the final preseason game to get down to 53 players.

Anthony Levine

  • Best-case scenario: Levine shows he has the most upside of any of the players outside of Collins, Burnett and Peprah. When he gets over his recent concussion issues, the Packers take a chance on him and make him their no. 4 safety as one of the last players to make the 53-man roster. He proves he was a worthwhile investment and gets a larger role on special teams as the season progresses.
  • Worst-case scenario: Unfortunately for Levine, the concussion didn't do him any favors. He can't impress the coaches by sitting on the sidelines, and he's either cut or receives an injury settlement when the Packers have to be down to 53 players on Saturday.

M.D. Jennings

  • Best-case scenario: Despite his light frame, Jennings shows potential by frequently around the ball whether it's on defense or on special teams. The Packers want to see how much better he'll be after a year in an NFL weight room, so he's asked to be part of the practice squad.
  • Worst-case scenario: Saturday is Jennings' final day in a Packers uniform when they just can't find room for him. Hopefully he does enough for another team to take a chance on him.

Anthony Bratton

  • Best-case scenario: Bratton survives Tuesday's mandatory reduction down to 80 players in order to get one last audition on Saturday in the preseason finale against the Chiefs on Thursday.
  • Worst-case scenario: When the Packers have to get down to 80 players by Tuesday's deadline, Bratton is one of the unlucky three who get the axe before Thursday's exhibition game.
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Comments (2)

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redlights's picture

August 29, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Levine to IR? Good to see that Bush and Underwood are in the safety catagory; they can't play CB.

Peprah has got to be Capers' best friend, he provides versatility and is solid. And yes, if Bush can be the 4th safety, he will be fine. CB more of a concern.

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TedTheSledge's picture

August 31, 2011 at 04:39 pm

Packers site has Underwood listed as S/CB and Bush as CB/S so I guess they both can be figured into both positions. I think the Levine injury opens the door wide for Underwood to stick as a safety. Really a bad deal for Levine as the concussion has lingered and he can't pass the test to resume practice, saw where he has already been ruled out for tomorrow. I wonder if he is even a practice squad candidate at this point or if they might try to sign Jennings there now.

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