Cornerback Is Biggest X-Factor Position for Packers in 2024

The play of Green Bay's cornerbacks will go a long way to determining just how good the Packers can be in 2024.

Entering every season there are position groups which are known quantities, and others which are question marks. The Green Bay Packers have plenty of areas to feel confident in, especially on the offensive side of the ball. 

But among the positions on the roster which can be marked as ‘TBD’, it feels like none will have a greater impact on the overall success of the 2024 Packers than cornerback.

After Green Bay left the draft without spending a pick at the position until round seven, cornerback naturally became the focus of Packers’ fans concerns when evaluating the state of the roster.

Though the apprehension is justified over the worst-case scenario, in which the Packers cannot find consistency at corner, and are bombarded through the air on a weekly basis, there is another side to the coin.

There is a wealth of somewhat untapped talent in Green Bay’s cornerback room, and the competition which has been created could bring out the best in each player, much like the wide receiver group of 2023.

Jaire Alexander is the leader of the pack, and him returning to the All-Pro form he showed in 2020 and 2022 would go a long way to improving the overall fortune of the cornerback position.

After an underwhelming, and at times bizarre 2023 season, all indications are that Alexander is fully bought into the scheme and style new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley has brought to Green Bay. The Packers need the real Jaire Alexander back if the defense is to reach its potential.

The battle for the number two cornerback spot will be a thrilling watch in training camp and pre-season, with Eric Stokes and Carrington Valentine the current frontrunners.

Stokes has endured an horrific two years with various injuries, but will be looking to finally put those woes behind him and remind everyone why he was a first-round pick as he enters a contract year.

As a rookie, the talent was clear to see. It was just so long ago that it is fair for fans and outside observers to wonder what the 2024 version of Stokes will look like. Inside the building though, the Packers appear bullish on the 25-year-old.

Speaking to the assembled Green Bay media recently, Matt LaFleur said of Stokes: “I think he’s as good as I’ve ever seen him, both mentally and on the field. I want to temper expectations, but I really mean that.

LaFleur added that Stokes “looks fully healthy” and has been doing “a great job” of challenging Green Bay’s receivers.

Competing with Stokes for the starting place alongside Alexander is Valentine, who like Stokes back in 2021, showed real promise as a rookie, while also taking some lumps.

The Packers asked Valentine to put on some bulk this offseason, and he delivered. Passing coordinator Derrick Ansley said the corner “looks a lot different than last year, in a good way”.

This extra poundage should aid Valentine’s combative style of coverage, as should the switch to Hafley’s aggressive defense, pivoting from Joe Barry’s more passive approach.

Valentine was one of the hottest topics at OTAs and minicamp, with the coaching staff gushing about him at every opportunity. LaFleur said the former seventh-round pick has “a really bright future”, and he may already have the upper hand in the fight for playing time.

In the slot, Keisean Nixon will be the unquestioned starter entering week one as long as he is healthy, as the Packers doubled down on their corner/kick returner by inking him to a three-year, $18 million contract this offseason.

Nixon’s performance on defense has divided opinion, but Green Bay had the chance to cut bait with him after last season, especially with a new defensive coordinator entering the fray.

But clearly the Packers, and Hafley, believe he can succeed in the slot going forward after taking on a full time role for the first time in his career in 2023.

Down the line, he may face competition from Kalen King, this year’s Valentine i.e. a seventh-round rookie who was expected to be drafted much earlier. He could be a natural fit in the slot, lacking the long speed to survive outside.

Whether the Packers are getting the 2022 or 2023 version of the former Penn State corner remains to be seen, but if King can make some noise during the summer, he could provide Green Bay with another viable starter and make the depth at corner seem much healthier.

Do not forget about Corey Ballentine, either, who filled in admirably when asked last season and has shown himself to be trustworthy of starting games if required.

Cornerback is the biggest mystery box on Green Bay’s roster right now, and how well or poorly the group plays will have a huge impact on Green Bay’s 2024 Super Bowl hopes, one way or the other. It is very early, but the position appears to be trending in the right direction.

 

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @MarkOldacres

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4 points
 

Comments (44)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
mrtundra's picture

June 21, 2024 at 06:13 am

I cannot wait to see this CB group, in action! GO PACK, GO!!!

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Cheezehead72's picture

June 21, 2024 at 07:19 am

I agree. I want to see everything in action. I just want to see football. And yes we are less than a week from the end of the UFL. Let the games begin.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

June 21, 2024 at 07:04 am

Like our best years, this season sets up as a classic "iron sharpens iron" roster.

It's hard to believe our young receivers did so well last year while practicing against an inferior group of DBs. Perhaps that is part of the reason they got better as the year went along: they finally were getting experience against quality (opposing) defensive backfields.

Our young safeties are really going to benefit from their reps against this group of WRs, even moreso because our WRs have different strengths--they will be like a "school for DBs."

As far as the "X-Factor" headline, I don't really agree. I think we have a really solid group of CBs, but we're also going to be facing some very difficult WRs: Jefferson + Adddison; St. Brown + J Williams; Odunze + K Allen, just in the NFC North. Those guys are going to get their catches against ANY CB room.

Then you have the other teams we face: Miami's T Hill + Waddle and Bekham Jr; Cleveland's A Cooper + J Jeudy; Baltimore's Z Flowers and R Bateman; Seattle's Metcalf + Smith Njigba + T Lockett; Indy's Pittman + Downs + Pierce; etc.

I personally think our X-Factor is going to be our pass rush; we have a (hoped-for) high opinion of the Gary/Smith/LVN/Clark/Wyatt/Brooks group, but they need to be MUCH better at "getting home" FAST than they showed last year--and I'm not sure they will be.

My one hope is that blitzes from Edgerrin Cooper, Quay Walker, and our safeties add enough speed to create pressure and sacks before the WRs can get open.
It would be fair to say that I think this defense's X-Factor will be Cooper's blitzing.

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Cheezehead72's picture

June 21, 2024 at 07:17 am

It is very important that the coaching staff and GM make the right decisions on the roster and in all the positions but with the single high safety the CB position is most important. They need to have CB on the outside that can defend on an island because they will be all alone just like Castaway.

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T7Steve's picture

June 21, 2024 at 07:22 am

Heck with covering these wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL. Rush the passer (DB's best friend) and snatch the ball out of the air. Let those speedster receivers do what they want because they will anyway.

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NFLfan's picture

June 21, 2024 at 08:31 am

I've been saying this for awhile-the cornerback room is very concerning to me. I really don't know why Nixon was paid so much, he is just not fast enough to keep up with today's WR's. And, it is risky to rely on Stokes who has undergone a complicated foot surgery and has not shown an ability to remain on the field. GB needs to search for more talent, IMO.

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stockholder's picture

June 21, 2024 at 10:11 am

I agree with you.
1. Stokes will leave after this season.
2. Carrington will sit and leave too.
(He'll seek out Barry )
Nixon will be replaced eventually.

CB - Look for this position to drafted in 2025.
Because it's just a matter of time
before Alexander wants out..

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dobber's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:01 am

There is no Carpenter.

If Stokes goes it will be because he played himself out of town.

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stockholder's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:09 am

Carrington. Type o change.
I see the Savage way.

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Coldworld's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:25 am

Carrington Valentine is just entering his second year of his rookie deal. He’s not going anywhere for this season and the two following unless the Packers want him to.

Perhaps that’s why your typo was less foolish delusion than your currently amended, intended comment.

As to Jaire, it looks like you might be a year late with that conspiracy theory.

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stockholder's picture

June 21, 2024 at 03:55 pm

Perhaps?
You are saying he can beat out stokes.
I'm saying he won't.
I'm saying the cb room will change.
Much like the safeties did.
Perhaps your reading to much into
his contract.
Or you just want to put him on that pedestal.
You think he's better than he is.
I don't.
He was a 7th rd. pick that Barry got the most of.
And if that wasn't true.
The CBs would be the strength of the team.
If this defense doesn't work-
It's more than a Conspiracy Theory.

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Coldworld's picture

June 21, 2024 at 05:13 pm

Or maybe Valentine can just play football, which would mean he was a great pick by Gute as a 7th rounder.

Either way, whether he beats out Stokes or not, he’s not going anywhere unless he really tanks to the point where we want him gone during the next 3 seasons.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:16 am

"You are saying he can beat out stokes.
I'm saying he won't."

Don't really care who starts as long as they do the job.

"I'm saying the cb room will change."

Go back 2 and 3 years and look at the CB snap counts. It's already happening.

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LeotisHarris's picture

June 21, 2024 at 04:09 pm

I think Richard attempted a solo career after Karen died, but no go. There was and is no Carpenter.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 21, 2024 at 01:05 pm

Carpenter? It's a game of replacement; either via contract, injury, or longevity...If he was Seeking out Barry for a career rejuvenation--good luck.

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stockholder's picture

June 21, 2024 at 03:57 pm

Who else would he go to for a referral?

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:17 am

If he plays himself out of GB, I don't think GMs will care about referrals.

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Oppy's picture

June 21, 2024 at 08:24 pm

Alexander will want out?
Carrington will seek out Barry?

Dude, put down that shit you be smokin'.

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TheTaxiSquad's picture

June 21, 2024 at 09:57 pm

Alexander wants out? Why? Stokes is fired up and going to have a breakout year. Nixon will be solid and show why we paid him. At least one big game changing return. They probably will draft a CB or 2 next year as Ja isn’t getting any younger. I’m sooo glad I don’t have the same negative view on things as some do. Whew. That would suck.

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TheTaxiSquad's picture

June 21, 2024 at 09:50 pm

You don’t have to be fast in the slot. You have to be agile and quick and aggressive.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:18 am

Or strong enough to seriously disrupt the release and timing of the route.

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bossofallbosses's picture

June 21, 2024 at 09:59 pm

Nixon runs a 4.42 40 time and has sufficient speed. Shite, Douglas ran a 4.6 40 time and qas a top 5 CB last year per PFF. Nixon is the best return man in the NFL and the return game noq is probably a bigger aspect of the game than it's ever been. Nixon locked up Debo and CD in the postseason and he's in his prime.

Stokes is currently looking the best he's ever had as the surgery has shoqn no signs of slowing him down.

GB had was fourth in the NFL last year in man to man coverage per PFF and that's qith an often injured JA, no Stokes, Ballentine and Valentine in their rookie season. That means they'll be vastly better this year as those rookies are going to be even better (both top 5 in the NFL in completion percentage allowed against them last season which is insane) Stokes and JA are looking healthy and in great shape and Stokes is fighting for a contract, and Kalen King is a first round talent and Jeff is going to run more man to man press coverage than any DC in the NFL. IF they needed more talent they would've either acquired it in FA or in the first three rounds of the draft. Instead they acquired mainly OL, LB and S and those were indeed the biggest needs of the team.

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dobber's picture

June 21, 2024 at 09:03 am

"Cornerback is the biggest mystery box on Green Bay’s roster right now,"

I disagree. The top 4 CBs from the end of last season, who accounted for themselves fairly well--Jaire, Ballentine, Valentine, and Nixon--are all back, and they're adding a former first-rounder (Stokes) and a late-round pick who was getting early-round hype prior to his last year at Penn State to the mix (King). I think the baseline level of play will be just fine assuming they stay relatively healthy. Going into the draft we seemed to be nervous about Stokes, and the lack of other marquee draft picks that allowed us to crap on everyone else NOT named Alexander. This is a solid group...especially if they can dial up pressure in front of them.

That said, I agree with PEO and Steve: they're gambling that they have the pieces in place to transition their front 4 and get pass rush (that's without a fast, bendy outside rusher). They've really got just one type for their DEs. We could also assert that their off-ball LBs are going to be challenged early and often.

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GregC's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:20 am

Sometimes I think people would have a more positive assessment of our CBs if Stokes was taken out of the equation. The uncertainty around Stokes--who could be really good or could contribute almost nothing--has made the CBs look like a bigger mystery than they actually are. The worst we will get from them will be about the same as last year, which as you note, was pretty good. Areas of possible improvement include Alexander staying healthy and engaged, Valentine improving in his second season, and Stokes playing well again. All three of those things, or at least two of them, could easily happen.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 21, 2024 at 01:36 pm

Well, the defensive backfield was responsible for Six of the Seven INTs by the less than stellar crew with Jaire missing most of the season. Ford had Two of the picks and Douglas bagged one more. They are both gone.
This group has to play the ball better and come away with the steal. Hopefully, Hafley makes a difference.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:27 am

...even then, JA has hands of stone. With the exception of one year, he's struggled to secure the INT over his career.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:49 am

I agree with you, dobber. We usually dress 5 CBs and have one inactive, and think Alexander-Nixon-Valentine-Ballentine-Stokes-King gives us a decent shot being able to put 5 healthy, solid CBs in uniform for 17 weeks. It'd be nice if we could stash a guy on the practice squad in case of multiple injuries.

If Alexander is healthy, one thing we can depend on is that the other corners on the field are going to get tested early and often. That would be Nixon and Valentine, at this point, just like last year.

The cornerback unit is going to benefit from two things:

1) The safety play behind them is probably going to be better. I don't think it's a coincidence that last year's safeties are all gone. McKinney has bonafides, and the indicators on Bullard are looking good so far

2) I think we're going to have a really good pass rush this year. PEO and Steve are right We can just throw wave after wave of good, fresh, D-linemen at teams for 60 minutes...guys who can win one-on-one matchups.

If you combine that with the frequently stated desire to play press coverage and get more turnovers, it seems to add up to challenging the early pass and then counting on your pressure to get home and your safeties to prevent a big strike downfield. At least, that's the way it's starting to look to me.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:43 am

"McKinney has bonafides, and the indicators on Bullard are looking good so far"

I've quoted this line before, but someone once said "if your defense is weak up the middle, your defense is weak." This off-season was probably the most concerted effort we've seen by the GM to fix the defense up the middle. It's a pretty good start toward consistently better overall play--that's been my knock on the D: its inconsistency.

We all know the league is skewed to make defenses look bad. Under Barry there were good weeks and some good weeks strung together, and there were stinkers (or whole units on the defense that would inexplicably lay an egg on a given week). The end result was a statistically average-looking defense that sometimes gave us some hope and sometimes made us rip our hair out. In general, I think the defense played well enough in some 2023 games that they were sold out by ineffective offensive performances....but there were a couple weeks where the defense couldn't close the deal and the offense bailed them out, too. I'd call it wash.

"it seems to add up to challenging the early pass and then counting on your pressure to get home"

This sounds like a defense predicated on shortening plays and forcing quick decisions. I think we've heard this before, but hope springs eternal in June. Just like any team sport: if you put pressure on your opponent to react and adjust rather than dictate, you make the game hard for them and that creates mistakes. You can give up some chunk plays if you're forcing more impact plays--and making good on them--than you're giving up.

We aren't talking about tackling. That will be a key part of how this defense performs.

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Coldworld's picture

June 21, 2024 at 10:03 am

Is it? Valentine performed pretty well last year. Jaire, who seemed unenthused now seems excited: if he is we know what he is capable of if allowed to play the ball. Stokes is a capable press corner, the only question is the extent of his injury recovery, which so far seems positive.

Behind them we have questions because King was a 7th (like Valentine) and Ballentine a fill in and we’ve not seen much of the in season pick up Rochell (a former 4th rounder who flashed as a rookie and then got hurt) or the others because we have yet to hit camp. Ballentine held his own starting last year. At this point unfamiliarity is being taken as a sign of weakness, but at deeper depth. Camp may change that and Gute may yet shuffle.

Nixon is backed up by safeties Bullard and Williams at least, and we could see King or Ballentine get time there as well. Yes they are rookies, accepted.

Overall, this doesn’t seem a bad group to me. It could be a very good one. We’ve at least 3 perimeter starters, plus Ballentine as depth and now have a bunch of versatile rookie safeties to add depth in the middle and a few players with potential that we are unfamiliar with or rookies. Seems like that’s pretty good in the NFL.

Yes, injuries could decimate, but that is true of almost any positional group except maybe the currently exceptionally large WR crowd and perhaps RB, at least before cut downs. At this point I’m not worried, in fact I think that this group has a chance to be very good, if health allows and Hafley proves capable.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 09:56 am

In the top 6 you've got an UDFA (Nixon), two 7s and a 6 (Valentine and King, and Ballentine) and 2 1s (JA and Stokes). Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle with guys like Ballentine--he's a 28-year-old, D-II find who played well enough in 2023, but he gives you hope that as a 5th or 6th CB (where he'll likely end up if the group is healthy) that you can get quality snaps if called upon...that's not too bad. Nixon is someone who I think will lose snaps to young safeties, but has inside-outside flexibility that you want in a depth player.

I think this is a bias against players who haven't been pre-validated by being day 1 or day 2 draft picks. Add Stokes--as a high pick who has been inconsistent when he's been able to play--as someone we don't have much faith in, yet, and it makes the whole thing feel weak, even though they did pretty well in 2023. We look at the Packers' ability to draft OL later on or sign UDFAs, and turn them into players and cheer...I think we'll be looking at the CB group and its depth and be saying the same kinds of things later this year.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2024 at 10:48 am

Correct, dobber. We didn't have premium talent lining up for us at CB...or S...last year. When you look at a few of the games where we got lit up....I'm thinking Tampa Bay....and you start noticing who is on the field, then that starts to clear some things up.

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greengold's picture

June 22, 2024 at 10:44 am

Agreed. Frankly, we have a number of "X-Facotr" positions on this Packers team. Nothing is certain on our OL. I still feel the GB rushing attack would benefit from a change at C, along with improved play at every other position in that group.

CB? It's certainly another group with questions needing to be answered. However, Both Valentine and King bring high level, tested abilities as outside CBs in their resumes pre-draft.

Carrington Valentine was ranked by Athlons as the #71 Prospect in their 2023 Top 100 Players. Daniel Jeremiah had him ranked #137 Overall.

Athlons had Kalen King ranked #137 Overall for 2024. PFF ranked King #177 Overall. He certainly got one hella endorsement from Jayden Reed, and THAT is someone who knows good CB play.

Neither are your ordinary late round picks. They both brought legit pedigree from their college experiences. Yet, both allowed explosive plays that may have contributed to being available late. All CBs allow big plays. When you're aggressive, making plays on the ball as you're calling card, that involves taking chances, and you're playing the percentages. I think they both are going to prove to be rock solid players.

I won't repeat your other points, though, I would readily. This Packers CB group looks like it has the potential to make the biggest jump overall. We'll see.

DE/EDGE is another position group with the potential to really explode onto the scene in a big way this year for GB, just like CB.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:30 am

Coach Hafley arrived in Green Bay with some empty chairs and questions in the DB rooms.

Now the chairs are filled with McKinney, Bullard, Williams, King, Oladapo joining Alexander, Stokes, Nixon, Valentine, Johnson Jr., and few other prospects.

Questions remain, but the list of potential answers is long and growing. Ainsley and Downard have a talented group to coach up!

And coaching DBs is in Hafley's Wheelhouse too!

1 points
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Since'61's picture

June 21, 2024 at 11:31 am

I disagree with the premise of this article. While I agree that there are questions at CB I believe that our Safety position is our biggest X-factor even with the signing of McKinney. Next the consistency of the Packers pass rush is also a question mark at this time. The CB position group depends on the pass rush and the Safeties to apply pressure on the opposing Qb and to pick up the back end of the defense. If either or both groups fail the CBs will be left as islands without the necessary support to succeed.

Health is the key for any position group and if our CBs our healthy and get the necessary support from the pass rush and our Safety group they will be fine.
Thanks, Since '61

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bossofallbosses's picture

June 21, 2024 at 12:16 pm

Mckinney is the best SF in the NFL that's a dramatic improvement over Savage who's been a practice squad level player over the last 2 to 3 years. Last year the SS was filled by backup level players. Bullard was the best safety in the draft and I believe he can be just as good as Branch was for the Lions if not better. The reason I like him is because he's smart and doesn't get juked out of his Jock like Savage did. He's the anti-Savage.

As for the pass rush they have the dogs and now the system allows them to pin their ears back. No more P. Smith covering Justin Jefferson anymore.

Rashan Gary had a 90 PFF before his injury. Noq that he's 2 years seperated from his injury I expect him to be at full strength and in this system I expect him to be a all pro player. Smith is a consistent 8-10 sack a year guy and is great but I expect Lukas Van Ness to pass him up as he's a monster and just bigger stronger and faster than pretty much all DE's in the NFL. He was raw last year but developed his skills as time went on. I expect a monster year from him and wouldn't be shocked if he gets to 10 sacks this season.

Devonte was #2 in the NFL in pass rush qin rate behind Aaron Donald last year but struggled in finishing the job. I'm hopeful the new DL coach and Haffley will help him finish. Kenny Clark had 7.5 sacks last year and is playing on a contract year so he'll probably have his best season (90 PFF). Brooks was the biggest surprise of all last season as a 6th rounder with an average RAS score I didn't think he'd make the team. Not only did he make the team but at times he looked like the best DL on the team.

CB group qaas #4 in man to man coverage last year per pff and that's qith a banged up JA, no Stokes no Kalen King and 2 rookies in Ballentine and Valentine. If anything they should be the best CB group in the NFL in this man to man press coverage aggressive system.

I do have questions about the LB group as Mcdouffie is an average LB, Quay is a loq IQ player, Cooper has potential but has proven nothing. The LB group is the worst position group on the team by far. Mcdouffie could improve as he's a starter now getting more reps and in a system with a coach he's comfortable in. Cooper might be the best LB in the draft and has displayed he can sniff out plays in camp so far. Quay just has no brain. I'm not sure if Jeff can help grow one for him but I hope so.

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Ya_tittle's picture

June 21, 2024 at 02:29 pm

I concur on Walker's limitations.

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bossofallbosses's picture

June 21, 2024 at 10:13 pm

Yep, it was obvious with his 6 Wonderlic score. Dude is dumb and controlled by his emotions. That's a dangerous combination.

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dobber's picture

June 22, 2024 at 10:12 am

All the Wonderlic test--or any standardized test--does is tell you how well someone takes the Wonderlic test. Don't make much more of it than that.

Having said that, a simplified defense that clarifies responsibilities and simplified reads is good for all players.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 22, 2024 at 10:17 am

In a see-ball, get-ball linebacker the Wonderlic is beyond useless as a metric. Walker can play, your trolling notwithstanding.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 22, 2024 at 10:22 am

Brett Favre was dumber than a box of hammers and that boy could play quarterback. If intellectual intelligence was the metric by which football players/teams were judged, the leagues would be dominated by players from Cal Tech, MIT and Stanford.

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greengold's picture

June 22, 2024 at 11:02 am

Rock solid point, Since'61. Again... LOL

All secondary players are dependent upon an effective or better pass rush. Without pressure on the QB, the best CBs and Safeties in the NFL are vulnerable. Personally, I happen to think that both groups are going to surprise this season. We've got far better depth in both groups than many might not realize.

Having Enagbare back is a huge win there. Couple that with both LVN and Cox Jr. entering their 2nd years, with Hafley wanting to cut the dogs loose? I'm all over that.

Health is key for this entire team to succeed in reaching our top goal. What is really cool is LaFleur had taken note and changed out his Strength & Conditioning Coach, hiring Aaron Hill from the 49ers. He turned injury plagued Christian McCaffery around from playing 3 games in 2020/7 games in 2021 to playing in 16 of 17 games in 2023, winning OPY. Hill also helped turn Trent Williams around for SF.

Hill replacing Gizzi as the head of Strength & Conditioning could benefit all position groups moving forward. That was a very positive move by LaFleur this offseason.

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bossofallbosses's picture

June 21, 2024 at 12:01 pm

First off GB had the #4 overall DB room in man to man coverage last season per PFF. That's with an often injured JA, Stokes out for 95% of the season, UFDA rookie Ballentin, 7th round rookie Valentine and KR GOAT Nixon in his first season locking down his position in covering the slot. The issue was Joe Dinglebarry called man to man less than any other DC in the NFL.

Now GB has a DC that's going to use man to man press coverage more than any DC in the NFL which is perfect for this DB room. Combine that with Ballentine and Valentine being even better this season after one year of experience and Valentine looks like he's about to take a major jump from last season. JA is the best CB in man coverage in the NFL when healthy, Stokes looks better than ever before and in his rookie season he had an 84 PFF grade in man to man coverage. Nixon may be the biggest question mark but an excellent job vs Debo and CD Lamb in the playoffs and single handily won the game vs the Chiefs last year. Also, you bring in Kalen King who has first round talent but they acquired him in the 7th round and sounds extremely motivated to prove everybody wrong.

Ballentine had a 50% comp% against him and valentine had a 51 comp% and they were both top five in the entire NFL in this area. That was in a crappy system as rookies so they'll be exponentially better this season.

To me they can be the best CB group in the entire NFL this year if they stay healthy (due to the talent, ability and system.

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TheTaxiSquad's picture

June 21, 2024 at 09:42 pm

Great article Mark. I feel the same hopeful way about all these guys. I hope Hafley and Downard put them in the positions they need to be and cut them loose to play.

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Gman1976's picture

June 22, 2024 at 11:00 am

Very good article. I wasn't too worried about our CBs until we traded Douglas last year. I still wonder why we did that. I suspect that if the young CBs don't step up, CB will be one of our 1st picks next year. We have healthy CBs now & youth, but still a lot of question marks. This position group is the weakest one so far.

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