De’Vondre Campbell a Surprising but Deserving All-Pro

Three members of the Green Bay Packers were selected to The Associated Press’ All Pro Team for 2021. For quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it was the fourth time he was named All Pro. For wide receiver Davante Adams, it was his second consecutive appearance on the All Pro Team. Both of those players have been there before and both expected to be named All Pro again. But the third Packer was a bit of surprise: inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

Before joining the Packers, Campbell had played five seasons in the NFL. His first four years were spent in Atlanta. In 2020, he moved on to the Arizona Cardinals. In each of his five seasons in the league, Campbell was a starter and a consistent performer. He never started fewer than 10 games in a season and was considered reliable but he also never received serious Pro Bowl consideration let alone votes for the All Pro team.

The Packers signed Campbell as a free agent on June 9 during minicamp. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal and was expected to compete for a starting spot at inside linebacker. Matt LaFleur knew Campbell from his days with the Atlanta Falcons and he was in favor of signing the former University of Minnesota star. His signing did not make headlines. The Packers have not placed an emphasis on the inside linebacker position for many years and it seemed like Campbell’s signing was nothing new.

But when Campbell got to training camp, the Packers quickly realized they had added a player who could improve the defense. Campbell had more speed than recent inside linebackers like Blake Martinez and Antonio Morrison. He also had a high football IQ and was able to put himself in the right position to make plays. He was a sure tackler, good in coverage and turned out to be a good fit in Joe Barry’s defense.

“De’Vondre has been lights out,” Matt LaFleur said early in training camp. He’s done a great job. I think he’s done a really nice job of picking up what we’re asking him to do at a quick rate.”

Campbell became a difference maker in the defense once the season started. He led the team with 146 total tackles, 102 of them solo. He recorded six tackles for loss, two sacks and intercepted two passes. He also broke up five passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Campbell is also a sure tackler. According to Pro-football-reference.com, he missed only four tackles all season. In addition, when receivers covered by Campbell make a catch, they rarely gained many yards after the catch. The linebacker makes the tackle quickly and doesn’t allow small plays to become big gains.

Campbell also provided leadership to the defense. He called the defensive signals and made sure his teammates were in the proper position.

“He’s wearing a lot of hats for us,” LaFleur said in October. “He’s obviously the guy communicating out there, but he’s in all those different personal groupings and asked to fill multiple responsibilities. We’re lucky we have him. He’s definitely been productive. But he’s also been a great asset to our locker room. He’s earned the respect of his teammates. That was a really great pickup for us.”

 

Campbell started 16 games for the Packers. He was in Covid protocols but that coincided with the bye week and he did not miss a game as a result. After the Packers clinched the top seed in the NFC, Campbell was held out of the season finale against the Lions.

By making the AP first-team All-Pro Team, Campbell made history. The last Packers middle linebacker to earn that honor was Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke who did it back in 1966.

Incredibly, Campbell while he earned All Pro honors, Campbell was not voted to the Pro Bowl. A similar thing happened to left tackle David Bakhtiari in 2018.

“I think everybody on this football team, in this building and around the league that really knows what's going on knows that he's been a tremendous player this season for us,” LaFleur said after Campbell was passed over for the Pro Bowl. “He's been a tremendous player this season for us and he's a big reason why we've been able to have so much success not only on the defensive side of the ball but as a football team.”

Campbell has been a great addition to the Packers lineup this season. He went from an afterthought to an impact player in one season. Now the playoffs await. Campbell has played in one Super Bowl with Atlanta after the 2016 season. He would love another chance to win a title this year with Green Bay.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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10 points

Comments (30)

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

January 15, 2022 at 12:20 pm

You got this Gil. Campbell was everything we needed for years. Just Because!

11 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

January 15, 2022 at 01:34 pm

The Evidence is all on the Film. He had an ALL- PRO YEAR. Now he needs to take over this defense, it's his team now.

7 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:47 pm

Been great to watch him play so well. From day 1 he has exceeded expectations. Thanks for the kind words, stockholder.

4 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:29 pm

I think the Packers coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for taking players like Campbell and Rasul Douglas, basically cast-offs from other teams, and having them have career years. And, of course, Gute for signing them.

16 points
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CheesyTex's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:16 pm

Right on. "Fit" is so hard to come by that I hope both realize it and sign long-term deals with the Pack that don't break the bank.

Ironic to me that both were with the Cardinals. Cardinals preferred rookie Zaven Collins to Campbell and let him go in F.A., and Malcolm Butler retired a week or so after Pack signed Douglas from their practice squad. Wonder how they feel now?

5 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:49 pm

Fit is tough to figure out before a signing. These worked out so well. Hope the Packers can keep them both. Thanks for commenting, CheesyTex.

4 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:48 pm

Absolutely, 13TimeChamps. Winning teams do that and it's been great to see it happen. Thanks for commenting.

1 points
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toraltamike's picture

January 16, 2022 at 11:12 am

GPG!!

0 points
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toraltamike's picture

January 16, 2022 at 11:11 am

100% bang on. We owe a huge thanks to the Cards for making these lads available to us and to the coaching staff for recognizing the talent and putting them in position to succeed. I'm just happy we've returned a little bit to the days of Nitschke at the Mike backer position. If nothing else, I hope this convinces Gute that we can't afford to devalue the MLB position if we want to have a championship-calibre defense.
Oh, and I hope you have to change your handle in a few weeks. :-)

0 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:32 pm

I would argue that Campbell has been the most important factor in the overall improvement of the defense this year - even more so than Joe Barry. While Barry has had some questionable (game plan) performances - Campbell has not. It was also refreshing to see, that after all these years, the center of the Packers D had ceased to be an open air space.

12 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:51 pm

He's been a real difference maker and very consistent. I can't recall him having a bad game. You can definitely make the argument he's been the most important factor in improving the defense. Thanks for the comment, Alberta-Packer.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:35 pm

It’s pleasing to see him recognized. It’s pleasing to see an award based upon this season not yesterday’s or market. It just shows up how little credibility that the pro bowl system has (yet again).

Given that we had coaches with knowledge of him, I’m dubious About the explicit implication that the Packers didn’t have a pretty good idea that he had the attributes that they needed. If so, his fit with Barry’s scheme is miraculous. That said, he has surely exceeded far exceeded reasonable expectations. Deserved and good to see.

15 points
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NickPerry's picture

January 15, 2022 at 01:15 pm

" It’s pleasing to see an award based upon this season not yesterday’s or market."

My thoughts exactly CW...They got this one right with Campbell. I just hope we can afford to keep him next year now because his price went up even higher. BUT, he deserves to be an All Pro!

8 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:53 pm

No doubt the price has gone up and we know the Packers have cap issues heading into next year although they can be worked out. Hope they can keep him, he's been such a good addition. Thanks for the comment, NickPerry.

2 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:52 pm

I think having coaches with knowledge of him helped but I think even they didn't expect him to be THIS good. Glad he has been. Thanks as always for the comment, Coldworld.

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 16, 2022 at 01:39 pm

Exactly how I see it Coldworld.

0 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

January 15, 2022 at 01:20 pm

Amazing what placing a little more emphasis on the IL position than the FO/GM of the recent past can do for a defense.

7 points
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GilMartin's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:54 pm

They didn't spend a lot of money to get him but they hit the jackpot, didn't they. Thanks for the comment, TarynsEyes.

1 points
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PhantomII's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:24 pm

Really happy for Campbell to be a packer. I'm glad he is here to show the FO what a difference it makes when we have a Pro Bowl/ All Pro
level play at the critical ILB position. I hope the FO can scrape the money together to retain him in the future and add another #1 draft pick next to him or Clark. On a side note, I would like ML to use Clark for goal line OL red zone <5 yd. line run plays in the playoffs.

5 points
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Packers0808's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:31 pm

Kept saying all season on here how I liked Campbell and how he was all over the field. Guess for once I was right. Congrats sir, you deserve every ounce of this honor!

7 points
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Swisch's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:38 pm

Campbell was souper!
To find a guy in obscurity who became not only a solid starter, not only a star, but one of the three best at his position of inside linebacker in the entire NFL for an entire season, is an incredible feat for all concerned -- especially the player.
Congratulations, De'Vondre!!!

8 points
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Gman1976's picture

January 15, 2022 at 05:42 pm

When we first watched him, he jumped off the screen with his power, speed, and tackling. We thought this is nice; but then he just kept doing it game after game after game. Then he made us believe we actually have areal live impact MLB!!! Now if only we can resign him.

6 points
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Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2022 at 06:35 pm

Defensive MVP! Would not be where we are without him. So nice to not see the middle forgotten aboutl Think they would have learned their lessons by getting some respectible play at ILB finally

4 points
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Oppy's picture

January 15, 2022 at 07:51 pm

The difficult part of having so called "cast-off" pick ups like Campbell and Douglas is assessing whether the performance they've turned in is a sign of a trend- that the proverbial switch has been flipped, they've turned a corner, or that they have truly found a system that highlights their particular skill set in ways previous schemes have not... that they will continue to perform in a similar fashion going forward.

The other possibility is that the player has over-performed, is having the 'year of their career' and their performance will fall back down to earth and more resemble their baseline performance as defined by the other years in the league.

It's a tough call to make when you have new-to-your-team players on one year contracts that perform as these two have. You don't want to let them walk, but on the other hand, you have to be mindful of paying a great deal based on one years' sample size which may not be an indicator of the next several years' performance.

Tough spot to be in for the guys in the FO who already have massive salary cap issues going into 2022.

3 points
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Reghamster's picture

January 17, 2022 at 03:13 pm

Oppy has pointed out the crucial issues to the Packers or any team dealing with salary caps and related issues when a team considers its future . Yet he doesn't go the step further in some ways to reflect on what or who is crucial to any teams future .
So it does raise the question about the salary cap and AR heading into the next few years . The Packers have had another 13 win year and as everyone on CHTV likes to point out without the likes for most of the year without so many of it's well paid stars like DB, Jaras well as many of its rotating WRs and TEs, etc. They have been without Gary and Clark even for a period of time. So everyone seems to think we need these all stars and we can't succeed without them and yet we somehow will without Rodgers. I would say that as in the past we have good seasons and yet when we were without Rodgers the Packers stalled and usually lost. So why IS it so essential to keep so many players on expensive long term contracts ? We can find enough inexpensive diamonds in the rough as well as utilize the practice team players and back ups as long as we have our star Diva . This is as true for sports as opera and other arts . We would not be 13 wins and the number 1 seed without Rodgers . The same can't be said for any other player . Resign him and I suppose Dante, both AJs and his BFF Cobb ( to keep AR happy!) and then find another Douglas and Campbell here and there and meanwhile utilize the cheaper lineman and d squad you have ! Campbell and Douglas illustrate this truth emphatically!

0 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

January 17, 2022 at 08:16 am

Oppy,
You hit it right on the head! Campbell is already 28 years of age. Do not know when he will be turning 29 years of age, but he will be 29 next season. Rasul on the other hand is 26 years of age. That two year difference means quite a bit. I do not envy the front office this off-season. With so many quality players to resign and many of them young I'd have a difficult time throwing a lot of money at a 29 year old ILB who has had one exceptional season.

Kudos to Campbell! Kudos to Gute and front office along with the coaches for bringing Campbell to the team and putting him in position to succeed. Unbelievable story!

There are too many unknowns about what is going to happen come March 16/17th but in my mind the Packers top needs in the draft as it stands right now are OLB (Zadarious is gone and possibly Preston), WR (Adam's, or MVS/ESB are gone), DL (cannot recall whether Lowry's contract might be up but if it is he might be gone), OT (Turner is gone but if the Packers retain Kelly and Nijman they might be okay), and ILB (Campbell might be gone). Four critical positions and they cannot be adequately filled with a single draft. I am in the moment and enjoying the Packers possible SB run, but I will be honest I just might pay even more attention to all the offseason drama and surprises even more.

0 points
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Reghamster's picture

January 17, 2022 at 03:26 pm

Mr. Snot knocker has even further illustrated my earlier point. The Packers will win Saturday because Rodgers is much better than Garropolo and has that it quality . Whether Rodgers and the Packers can beat Brady and the Bucs next week is a whole different question( home field and titty freezing weather aside)!
I know it is a team sport etc. But still look who is winning most of these games ! It is Brady , Allen ,Burrows , Mahomes etc. It is not just who has the better qb ( Prescott is better than Grappolo for example !) but really how good and diva like they are.

0 points
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Reghamster's picture

January 17, 2022 at 03:26 pm

Mr. Snot knocker has even further illustrated my earlier point. The Packers will win Saturday because Rodgers is much better than Garropolo and has that it quality . Whether Rodgers and the Packers can beat Brady and the Bucs next week is a whole different question( home field and titty freezing weather aside)!
I know it is a team sport etc. But still look who is winning most of these games ! It is Brady , Allen ,Burrows , Mahomes etc. It is not just who has the better qb ( Prescott is better than Grappolo for example !) but really how good and diva like they are.

0 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 16, 2022 at 01:43 pm

This is a great article and the comment section was outstanding.

0 points
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Avrumi's picture

January 18, 2022 at 03:04 pm

𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 $𝟏𝟒𝟎 𝐭𝐨 $𝟒𝟓𝟎 𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞. 𝐈 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝟑 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐢𝐢𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐲 $𝟐𝟒𝟔𝟓𝟐 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬 .

𝐒𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄,,..,,... 𝘄𝘄𝘄.𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗝𝗼𝗯𝟮𝟰𝟳.𝗰𝗼𝗺

0 points
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