Damarious Randall Will Bounce Back in 2017

Damarious Randall had a rough sophomore season with the Green Bay Packers, but that doesn't mean he isn't capable of bouncing back in 2017. 

Sometimes, when it comes to the National Football League, our judgement can be a bit premature. Before last season, many Packer fans predicted, even hoped that Davante Adams wouldn’t make the roster out of training camp.

Adams was coming off an injury-prone second season in the NFL. He struggled with drops and looked like a guy that was about to be passed on the depth chart.

Then, a funny thing happened. Adams had a great offseason and put together a solid training camp. Then, after a slow start, Adams turned into one of the most productive receivers in the NFC down the stretch.

Now, Green Bay fans are hoping he’s signed to a long-term deal, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

While we were too quick to judge Adams a year ago, I think this offseason, we have been far too quick to write off another once-promising Packer -- Damarious Randall.

Randall, a first-round pick back in 2015, burst onto the scene as a rookie, intercepting three passes, breaking up 14 more and earning All-Rookie honors in the process. Many, including myself, thought the Packers had found a new starting corner.

However, in 2016, Randall failed to build on his successful rookie season. He got torched during the first few games and was then sidelined with an injury that caused him to miss six games.

When he was healthy, Randall still wasn’t the same. He had his moments and he still finished the year with three interceptions, but he also seemed to give up big play after big play. He was no longer trusted to cover the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. That duty fell to LaDarius Gunter.

In part because of Randall’s decline and the loss of Sam Shields, the Packers pass defense fell apart. I probably don’t need to remind you Green Bay ranked 31st in passing yards allowed, as well as 29th in terms of most passing touchdowns given up.

Clearly, there was work to do and so far Ted Thompson has done a good job of addressing it. He signed Davon House, which is an underrated move. Then drafted Kevin King, a 6-3 corner and Josh Jones, a versatile safety with 4.41 speed.

It should surprise no one if House and King are the opening day starters outside at CB for Green Bay, but it left me wondering, who does that leave to play the nickel? And immediately, I thought of Randall.

At 5-11, Randall obviously is going to struggle with guys like Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. He also wasn’t a full-time CB at Arizona State, so is still a work in progress. However, with his background at safety and his solid tackling ability, it seems to me that he’d be an ideal candidate to play the nickel.

Randall is blessed with 4.46 speed to match up with quick receivers and maybe in the slot, he won’t find himself stuck in mismatches so often.

Certainly, the Packers may try to use Jones or Kentrell Brice in the slot at times, but in terms of coverage ability, I think Randall could wind up being the best option.

There will definitely be some fierce competition for that spot with Quinten Rollins and Gunter trying to find a way onto the field, but, and this is just a hunch, at the end of the day, I see Randall winning the job.

I also have a hunch that Randall will play much better in 2017, than he did a season ago. Just like Adams, I think many have written off the former first-rounder, far too soon.

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Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Comments (44)

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lambeauguy's picture

May 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Totally agree that Randall's best position would be at nickle.

More often than not he appears completely lost when playing on the boundary. At least one (perhaps two?) of his three interceptions last year came as a result of a fortunate bounce combined with the fact that he was in a lucky spot given he was in no position to make a play on the receiver.

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dobber's picture

May 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm

...and given that the Packers play so many snaps in nickel (and in dime), he's essentially a starter in that scenario.

Lucky INTs or not, he still caught them. We've had years where we were begging DBs to just hang onto the damn ball. So many times, we'd see Randall get beat, then look around as if he was trying to figure out where the safety was. I can't help but wonder if playing with safety help rolled to his side (away from Shields) as a rookie never left his psyche...

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croatpackfan's picture

May 12, 2017 at 04:48 am

Thanks for putting this issue on. I think that starting CB will be House and Randall. And that will be due to the experience. I believe King will be House back up at the beginning. With season going deep King will take the job from House. I believe slot will be split between Rollins and Gunter.
Now, I'm talking about players, but truly we do not know how TC will impact on players. Maybe that guy Lenzy Pipkins, or Donatello Brown, David Rivers III, Raysean Pringle, Josh Hawkins, Herb Waters or somebody else will rise himself to the level when we will start to talk of miracle... And maybe we will be more disappointed than we are today.
I take this article as interesting and intriguing speculation.
Thank you!

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:41 pm

King will start immediately. He'll be our #1, even with the lumps he'll take from inexperience.

My money is on Randall beating out House to start opposite King.

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cheesehead1's picture

May 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Big season for both Randall and Rollins and the D in general. Will be very disappointed if there's not a marked improvement in the overall D. IMO, injuries are really no excuse. In the opener last season against JAX, our fairly healthy secondary got torched. Time to pick it up and take some of the pressure off Aaron.

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Finwiz's picture

May 11, 2017 at 01:46 pm

Yes - I remember the JAX game well. People want to use injuries as an excuse, but they had problems from the beginning. I keep going back to the scheme causing some serious communication and assignment problems.
People don't want to believe a coach can have that big of an effect, but when a defense is too complicated to process at game speed, what do you think will be the result?

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croatpackfan's picture

May 12, 2017 at 04:51 am

I also remember that JAX game. You told me you remeber that game well? Do you forget that it was the game Sam Shields become injured at the very beginning of that game? Or I remember wrong?

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Ferrari Driver's picture

May 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm

"People don't want to believe a coach can have that big of an effect, but when a defense is too complicated to process at game speed, what do you think will be the result? "

That is an excellent point, Wiz. Nowadays NFL players get fewer reps due to the collective bargaining agreement and many of those are done without pads which curtails realistic game conditions even more. Additionally, some of the Wonderlic scores by these modern day cornerbacks are close to single digits so the old "Keep it simple, stupid" as you imply is likely more important than most of us realize.

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Nick Perry's picture

May 12, 2017 at 05:57 am

The Jacksonville game was actually Randalls best game by far for the 2016 season. Randall finished the week one game with the best CB rating in the NFL. He followed it up in week 2 with the worst ranking in the NFL, both games were before he was injured.

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cuervo's picture

May 11, 2017 at 01:05 pm

House will be one starter the entire year, barring injury there isn't anyone on this roster that has ever played at the level House did in 2015 (last year being an outlier).

The rest of the CB spots are up for grabs, it will be entertaining to see that play out. I still think Rollins will be on the outside looking in..one of UDFA will beat him out (which shouldn't be too hard)

Of course, as always, injuries may play a major role in who is playing where....let's hope not!

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:39 pm

King will start immediately. House will struggle to beat out Randall. My money's on Randall.

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ShanghaiKid's picture

May 12, 2017 at 11:33 am

@Andrew I don't know what you've been watching. When House was put on Julio after torching Shields for the better part of 3 quarters, he shut him down. I've never seen Randall play anywhere close to that level, healthy or not. Randall is the same guy who got torched by Diggs when he was healthy. House isn't the best corner in the league, but I guarantee he's not getting burned for 2 TD's and 100+ yards by the Ste Diggs of the NFL.
For your viewing entertainment: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000705550/Stefon-Di...

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Colin_C's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:55 pm

Agreed. I think House has the best season out of all our CB's this year.

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Ben Pearson's picture

May 11, 2017 at 01:21 pm

Writing an article about a CB who last season who had a QBR against of 113.4 (again Aaron Rodgers QBR was 104.0 on the season...... just think about that for a second) will improve is like writing an article saying the Browns have a chance to win more than 1 game this year... Might be true but it still doesn't make them effective.

Also, I would hope Randall can improve because it really can't get a whole lot worse, literally (statistically speaking).

I do agree with the guess that it will be House and King lined up on the outside. I hope so anyways.

I know we can make comparisons to players who struggled initially but then ended up working out (like Davante Adams) but the reason people were ready to pass on Adams also had to do with where he was selected. He wasn't a 1st rounder so expectations were lowered.

And if you want to play the comparison game, let's talk about former first round draft selection Datone Jones. He showed promise, but then he struggled, and kept struggling and never came around. If we are going to entertain the idea that Randall will get it turned around, I think it's only fair to entertain the idea that he won't.

I just don't think we have a few years to waste while our young defense "develops" (fingers crossed).

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ChrisPeterson's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:17 pm

Yes his numbers were bad last year. But look at the quarterback rating his first season. I'm pretty sure it was down in the 70s. He was hurt last year and I think that made a difference. Obviously he can't play much worse but I think he will surprise and play closer to the way he did as a rookie, not like he did last season. And I think playing him in Nickel and fewer snaps will help. He's not a top boundary CB. Play to his strengths.

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dobber's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:10 pm

"But look at the quarterback rating his first season. I'm pretty sure it was down in the 70s"

Shields played all but 4 games during Randall's rookie year. With Shields holding down one side of the field, I'd like to know how much they shaded safety help to Randall's side? Still, in the four games that Shields sat, Rollins and Randall were at least serviceable...that's what gives me hope that they will be better with a clean bill of health in 2017.

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Ryan Graham's picture

May 11, 2017 at 05:44 pm

I have to agree with you. Shields was the guy covering number one wideouts when he played in 2015. Putting Randall in the number two spot I'm confident that he could do the job effectively more often than not provided good health. That said, I do believe the outside corners will be King and House out of the gate. Randall's natural position is safety. Given his "versatility" for lack of a better term coming off of last season, he will be plugged in wherever he's needed. I think he's gonna end up playing a lot more nickel than anything. Unfortunately for him I think Josh Jones will be seeing the field a lot at nickel as well.

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ChrisPeterson's picture

May 11, 2017 at 07:49 pm

I agree. I think Jones will be the nickel LB, not the nickel CB. That's the indication I think the GB coaches are giving now, although we won't know anything until the pads come on. I could see something like Randall/Jones/Brice rotate at the position kind of like Hyde and Hayward did two years ago. Hyde was a better tackler so he played more nickel on early downs. I could see that again. I just think Randall is the best coverage option.

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CAG123's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:33 pm

There is a big difference in what Jones did his rookie season and what Randall did. Datone showed flashes throughout his tenure with the Packers but never put it all together, Randall had a full season and was pretty solid he just happened to have a injury plagued season. So no Datone Jones is not the best comparison because he never had a full season of solid play Randall's career thus far is definitely more similar to Adams.

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Ben Pearson's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:51 pm

Cag123,

So you're totally comfortable with Randall's play and feel totally confident he will anchor our secondary and make us better defensively this year..? He will be good enough against play off caliber offenses/WR's?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. Nothing is personal it's just the truth. People have already stated, he's injury prone, he's under sized. Call it what you want but bottom line he's just not enough.

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CAG123's picture

May 11, 2017 at 05:16 pm

Injury prone? From one season? We've seen 2 years of play not 4 we saw a solid rookie season and an injury plagued sophomore season yet that's all we need to know to say he's done for? Oooookaaaay then. Plus he's going to be playing in a more natural position for his size in the slot so yeah I think he's do for a bounce back season.
Speaking on Randall's injury Mark Lovat needs to go (just thought I'd throw that in there)

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:00 pm

I agree it's fair to entertain the idea Randall won't improve enough, particularly when someone proclaims he will bounce back this season. Of course I hope he not only turns it around but dramatically improves vs. his rookie season when it looked like the Packers had a starting CB for years to come. BTW, do you know what his QBR against was in 2015?

Because his bounce back isn't certain, I'm very happy Thompson signed House and drafted King. Those are my guess for starting outside when the season starts. I know it's a long way from here to opening day for King, but I do expect him to start right away.

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RCPackerFan's picture

May 11, 2017 at 01:35 pm

Many of the things said about Randall could be said about Rollins.
Both of these guys I think will take a step forward after bad second years.
Both had injury riddled seasons and missed a lot of practice time along with game time.
That is the part that I think hurt them the most. The amount of practice time they missed. Young players missing practice time isn't a good thing, but both of these guys are still learning their positions so that really hurt them.

They will be very closely watched this year.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:15 pm

You guy's can think what you want, Randall & Rollings will never make a difference in the GB Defense. They are not even average CB's. If they are the future, we're in trouble. I'm almost ready to take bets that AR will not be in GB in 2 yr's. I would extend him NOW!!
LVT

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croatpackfan's picture

May 12, 2017 at 04:57 am

Thank you for giving us right to think what we want. Now I can exhale...

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 11, 2017 at 02:35 pm

I predict Randall beats out House and starts opposite King.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:16 pm

You could very well be correct, but I don't think that's saying very much.
LVT

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:33 pm

True.

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TXCHEESE's picture

May 11, 2017 at 03:23 pm

One thing is for certain, both Randall and Rollins better beef up and improve their tackling. They need to take some lessons from Brice. When he hits someone, they go down, and they go down hard. I watched the Charles Woodson segment on a football life on the NFL network the other evening. That man threw everything he had into every tackle.

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CAG123's picture

May 11, 2017 at 05:20 pm

Randall especially Rollins is actually pretty stocky. I also wish Randall would stop wearing his jersey like he does it looks really silly.

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Since'61's picture

May 11, 2017 at 04:08 pm

I'm expecting King and House to start on the outside. I think Randall at the slot CB would be a good move. Rollins could be the 4th CB. After that it could be any number of players for the remaining #5 spot. If everyone stays healthy I don't see Gunther or Goodson making the team. I think both will be chucked unless we have some injuries during TC. Thanks, Since '61

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Ferrari Driver's picture

May 11, 2017 at 04:30 pm

I have to defer this decision to training camp and the coaches.

I'm so confused on these cornerbacks that I don't have enough confidence to express an opinion and only have hope that when the whistle blows, the Packers can field a decent defensive backfield with some improved pass rush to help them out.

In the meantime, I'll just read your opinions.

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Bearmeat's picture

May 12, 2017 at 07:07 am

LOL!

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 11, 2017 at 05:13 pm

As in love with King as we all are right now (myself included), can we watch him play a pre-season game before we decide he will be the #1 CB?

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cheesehead1's picture

May 11, 2017 at 06:58 pm

Exactly, just see how things play out. He could be an average player or possibly a very, very good player, who knows? (no one knows). Time will tell.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 11, 2017 at 08:34 pm

Don't see how Gunther and especially Goodson make the cut. Let's hope not. With so many intriguing prospects in camp this year the potential is there to improve significantly

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stockholder's picture

May 11, 2017 at 06:20 pm

I think Randall will start. I also believe King will start. (After he settles in. ) I also believe House will flip. House is going to back up both positions. ( Switching sides constantly.) The faster, rested player stays outside. The slot will be played by Gunter and Rollins. It's going to be a rotation through out the secondary.

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CAG123's picture

May 11, 2017 at 07:17 pm

Hell no Ledarius "Cement Feet" Gunter in the slot?! That sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen I don't really expect him to make final cuts this year. Unless he goes to special teams what does he brings to the table as a corner?

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Packer_Pete's picture

May 11, 2017 at 07:56 pm

I doubt it. He wasn't good from the beginning, even before his injuries. I don't think he will start in the NFL long term, only if injuries for other players force it. Just my opinion of course.

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Nononsense's picture

May 12, 2017 at 12:26 am

Does the name Nick Collins ring a bell? Took him a few years to get IT, but he turned out pretty good. Randal was drafted as a FS but the Packers switched him to CB, although he did play CB in community college for 2 years before ascending to Arizona State. Rollins played CB for 1 yr in college before joining the Packers.

Randal and Rollins are both very talented but may take some time to develop their game. If they work hard and work on their weaknesses both will play some really good football in the years ahead. That is my opinion anyway.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 12, 2017 at 06:33 am

Bell rung.

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Packer_Fan's picture

May 12, 2017 at 09:06 pm

I think the whole CB issue is unsettled and wide open for the best 3-4 players to play. Who that will be is anyone's guess. Every player has something to prove, whether a bad year last year or not proven. And get rid of Gunter fast. If the Packers want fast, tall CB's, he does not fit the mold for either attribute. Why waste time developing him when others who fit at least one of the attribute don't get enough reps. Release him before training camp. Maybe he will get picked up by a NFC North team and Rodgers can torch him.

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mjbrogno's picture

May 12, 2017 at 09:50 pm

I'll keep it simple, He cannot play any worse then last season

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Oppy's picture

May 13, 2017 at 04:02 am

I would be absolutely shocked if King were one of the starting corners come opening day.

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