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Do the Packers Believe They Have a Shutdown Corner?

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Do the Packers Believe They Have a Shutdown Corner?

Have you gotten your copy of the 2017 CHTV Draft Guide yet? If not, head on over to the shop and pick it up – you won’t be disappointed.

Toward the end of the 2016 season, the Green Bay Packers’ secondary bore more resemblance to a MASH unit than a group of high-level pass defenders. Never was that more apparent than in their 44-21 throttling at the hands of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons. In that matchup, Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns, with Jones accounting for 180 yards receiving and two scores, as the Packers painfully overmatched secondary finally folded for good.

Green Bay’s struggles in the defensive backfield actually began extremely early in 2016, when Sam Shields suffered yet another concussion in their week one victory at Jacksonville. The Packers spent about a month holding out hope of a recovery for the speedy corner, but eventually put him on injured reserve when it became apparent his road back to the football field would be much longer than initially anticipated.

Despite his concussion troubles, Shields proved to be the definition of a shutdown, number one cornerback during his time in Green Bay. His primary asset was his 4.3 speed, which helped him recover even when he did get beat. Aside from being a burner, though, Shields exhibited excellent ball skills, a willingness to be physical at the line of scrimmage and a certain feel for playing the position.

The impact Shields had on both the defensive game plan for Green Bay and the offensive game plans of opponents was evident, too. The Packers trusted Shields to essentially render one half of the field null by matching him one-on-one with the opponent’s top pass catcher. More times than not, Shields did just that. When the Packers were forced to go without that talent, the difference on the field was clear.

Currently, Green Bay has six cornerbacks under contract: Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter, Demetri Goodson and Josh Hawkins return from last year’s squad, while Davon House returns to Green Bay after being signed in free agency.

Randall, a former first-round pick, shined bright as a rookie in 2015, nabbing three interceptions and making 58 tackles. That production made him the natural choice to pair with Shields to begin the 2016 season, tough he was quickly forced into the number one role. Randall dealt with his own injury issues as well, which caused him to miss five games in the middle of the season. The injuries seemed to linger throughout the rest of the season, and Randall finished with three more interceptions while recording just 39 tackles.

Rollins, drafted one round after Randall in 2015, was another pleasant surprise in his rookie year. Though he certainly earned a larger role for 2016, Green Bay’s need for healthy bodies on the field expanded that role even further. Rollins showed signs of what made him a contributor while starting 10 games in the regular season but, much like the group as a whole, struggled down the stretch.

The third corner from the class of 2015, LaDarius Gunter, saw the biggest jump in playing time in 2016. The former undrafted free agent started 15 games for the Packers in his sophomore campaign, factoring in on 54 tackles and registering 12 pass defenses. Gunter’s length at 6’2” proved to be a major asset at times, but his lack of top end speed was exposed on more than on occasion.

Davon House returns to Green Bay after two seasons in Jacksonville, where he found himself on the bench in 2016 after struggling to find success in the Jaguars’ defensive scheme. House was stuck behind Shields and Charles Woodson for three of his four years with the Packers, and still performed admirably enough earn a shiny contract in free agency from Jacksonville. His style is certainly suited to the physical, one-on-one situations in which the Packers would like their number one corner to thrive, and they will no doubt count on him to do so in 2017.

Goodson was carted off in week 11 of 2016 with an ACL injury, and is likely to start this season on the PUP list. Hawkins, meanwhile, would have to make a gigantic jump this offseason to merit much more than the special teams role he filled last year.

At this point, it’s hard to look at the Packers’ cornerback group and find one that stands out as a true shutdown player. House’s build, speed and physical nature make him the closest thing Green Bay has. Randall and Rollins possess fine ball skills and serviceable speed, but neither are fantastic in a one-on-one, battle at the line of scrimmage situation. Gunter has great dimensions, but does not come close to possessing the speed requisite of a number one corner.

The hope for improvement in the secondary for 2017 is largely based on the assumption that guys will stay healthy this year, which is never a given. The Packers are thin at the position as it is, and injuries would again devastate them a point of no return. They would do well not to let their hopes dictate how they approach making the group better.

By almost all accounts, this year’s draft is loaded with cornerback talent, and Green Bay is expected to cash in on that. The question is when, and how often? Do the Packers think they have a shutdown corner on their roster, or will they be looking for someone to immediately fill that role come draft time?

Within the first five weeks of the season, the Packers will face Julio Jones, AJ Green and Dez Bryant. Green Bay had better hope they’ve found their answer by then.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

worztik's picture

I bought a draft guide and the money's been taken from my account but, no magazine yet!!! Going on 3 weeks since paid for!!!!

Nick Perry's picture

You don't get a actual "Magazine", you have to download it to your computer. Click on your name in the upper right hand corner when you're signed in and go to files. Click on Files and you'll see the download there.

worztik's picture

Thanks Nick and my Point buddy... I really thought I was to receive a mag!!! There was an SKU listed for it so that confused my small mind. I was born in Point and weened on Blue Bullets so that explains it a bit... April fool Slit!!!

Point Packer's picture

A life full of Blue Bullets can certainly lead to continued confusion.

worztik's picture

Yes it truly do...

Point Packer's picture

"Nope".

slit's picture

You're a little late on the April Fools joke.

sonomaca's picture

Little discussed is what the Pack may or may not of Fackrell. If they don't think much, then another edge is priority in round 1. If not, the can go corner.

Nick Perry's picture

I think the same thing could be said for CB too. It's tough to know what Ted will really do but he could go a number of ways and help the team. Even if they think Frackrell takes a jump they need depth at the OLB position no matter what. That's especially true if Matthews is going to moving around.

After Randall, House, Rollins, and Gunter, the Packers have who? One injury and we have Hawkins or Walters suiting up. Christ just typing that makes me wonder how CB isn't their first choice. This just might be the year TT goes looking for some veterans the moment cuts start happening, he might not have a choice.

stockholder's picture

I believe if Watt is not there @ 29 he goes S/CB. Next consideration is a trade down. More than likely with Cleveland. @33 he takes Willis etc. TT then has clevelands 3rd pick, up from #61. Several Cbs should be there. Maybe S.Jones, Moreau, A,Jackson . Regardless a trade with the Browns, could help both teams. Seems Randall is not popular with some. The future outlook of Randall , Rollins , AND SECONDARY AS A WHOLE, might change with that first pick. -- will see thursday.

Nick Perry's picture

"TT then has clevelands 3rd pick, up from #61."....Huh??

I think you meant Cleveland's #66 pick didn't you? The Packers have the #61 pick in the 2nd round already so I think what you're saying is if they trade #29 to Cleveland the Packers would get #33 and #66 in return. Doing that would give the Packers the 33rd, 61st, 66th, and 93rd in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Personally I'd be so on board with that I'd be doing backflips until Friday Nights 2nd round started.

BUT I just can't see the Browns giving up the 3rd rounder to move up 5 spots. I think it's closer to their 4th round pick. No matter if the Packers can't move with the Browns, then maybe someone else. This is the perfect year for the Packers to move back and not only help themselves but to actually get some picks who could be starting or playing a huge role from the start of the season.

stockholder's picture

No , Cleveland has pick #52 from Tenn. So the packers get #33 and clevelands pick ( #52 through Tenn. ) I thought you knew that. At least the web site I used shows that. Plus mock 3.0 on here. The packers give cleveland #29 and 61. Might have to include a player or 7th.

Since '61's picture

The Packers have nothing close to a shutdown corner on the roster currently. The chances of drafting one are slim however they may be able to draft a CB who will evolve into a shutdown over his fist 2-3 seasons. If we can draft a CB who can at least improve the current position group for 2017 that would be enough. Very few players have been shut down CBs in their rookie seasons but the great ones do evolve into a shutdown CB by their 2nd or 3rd season. Hopefully the Packers find one this year. We'll see. Thanks, Since '61

Tarynfor12's picture

Yes, yes, yes.....they get shut down by opponents receivers weekly.

DThomas's picture

If Thompson, McCarthy and staff think they have a true #1 CB on the roster that can be counted upon this season, they're delusional. And Since '61 is right, the chances of drafting a CB who will be a shutdown corner this season, particularly at 29 are very, very slim. Although it's unlikely, I hope Thompson can add another vet CB after the draft.

While McCarthy has said they'll move Matthews around (we've heard that before), they do have two edge rushers in him and Perry if they can stay healthy. Don't get me wrong, I hope they draft an edge rusher early, but I think CB is the number one need.

gr7070's picture

"Do the Packers think they have a shutdown corner on their roster, or will they be looking for someone to immediately fill that role come draft time?"

These are not mutually exclusive propositions. Both may be true or false independently.

Despite the headline, some of its body, and the summary your article is really asking if the Packers feel good enough with their overall CB talent to not draft one high.

Most of us believe it's not good enough and suspect the Packers feel similarly. So they'll draft one inn first 3 rounds.

I do think the CBs are better than most appear to feel. Having that many injuries in one position group makes them look worse than they are/were. The advanced metrics show the defense in the while to have been better than most feel. They added a likely solid "floor" CB with some ceiling and will likely add another in the draft.

To me edge is the biggest concern and WR is a far more worrisome position group, especially beyond 2017, than most everyone believes.

I expect only these three positions (not necessarily all of these three) to be addressed in the top three rounds.

Zachary Jacobson's picture

Duh. His name is Josh Hawkins. (I will die on this hill.)

Point Packer's picture

If the opposite of "shut down" is "start up", then GB had plenty of great start up corners on the roster.

OrganLeroy's picture

If you want Conley you better trade up into the top 15, I've said this too many times already....Conley is skyrocketing up the boards and will be a top 15 pick, it's all over the sports sites by most of the best writers and analysts. Forget Conley Already!

dobber's picture

We need to remember that it's not what the media or draftniks think, it's what the GMs and guys in the war rooms think. Nobody is going to tip their hands, so a GM or his staff might gush about a guy trying to manipulate the draft board in a different way. That's what the media has to work with...

croatpackfan's picture

Packers has 7 CB under contract. It is not hard to check that. just go to the link:
http://www.packers.com/team/players.html
That is the best source for the players packers has on the roster...
Thank you!

stockholder's picture

Truthfully I like Randall. I think he can be just as good as Williams. Shut-Down - No. Good, yes. I believe this secondary only needs a Charles Woodson again. He was shut-down and feared. So, Which CB compares to Charles Woodson. I'll take K.King or A. Jackson. I know everybody has some point against Jackson. But I think the guy is going to be good in the NFL.

dobber's picture

...as long as this defense ONLY needs a Charles Woodson... ;)

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Williams??? Are You Kidding Me??? Are you forgetting he cost us a spot in a SB??? SHUT DOWN CORNER??? I think I had too much Champagne tonight, or Not Enough!!
LVT

GLM's picture

Even if you have Charles Woodson back there, if you have no consistent pass rush, someone will get open, and even a halfway decent QB will pick the team apart...just look at the first Vikings game last year. Bradford looked like all-world against us, and did little else the rest of the year.

The focus should be on the pass rush. A feared pass rush, and a stifling run defense takes the pressure off the corners. We had a very good run defense last year for a good part of the season, but it broke down near the end. Front 7 is where it's at. We have two very good safeties, and a lot of 2nd-tier corners. They could look a lot better if the QB is running for his life, and the running backs can't run

ironman3169's picture

Absolutely correct. Pass rush has a greater impact overall on defense than pass coverage.

lambeau66's picture

Simply wait till the Falcon game and you will see if we have any corners!!!!!!!!

al bundy's picture

IMHO the pack may have the word or closest to it pass d in football. And that includes dix. He stands around a lot and avoids contact. This team will not compete on the big stage until they accept they don't have the right guys and get help. They lack speed, mobility, and size.

zeke's picture

At least they can spell.

snowdog's picture

Will all English teachers please sit down . Keep it on subject please .

zeke's picture

Noted.

You left extra spaces before the periods in each sentence, just so you know.

snowdog's picture

Noted.

PatrickGB's picture

A CBs best friend is a great pass rush. While I think a great CB is our most needed position, I don't expect GB to find one in the draft. Possibly a good one in rounds 2-3. That's why I expect us to draft an edge rusher in the first. Our offense will need to outscore their opponents and play keep away with the time of possession.
I hope we can find a diamond in the rough with great speed in the later rounds. And then maybe next year he will be ready. I hold no hope for a shutdown corner THIS year.

Lphill's picture

Let's see Randall healthy and more experienced this coming season , I don't think we should write him off just yet.

The TKstinator's picture

Position of greatest need does not dictate rd 1 pick.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I see you're a new fan. Welcome aboard.

The TKstinator's picture

Ha!
We'll see!
You know Ted gonna Ted.

Donster's picture

Well if the coaching staff believes they do, then they are dumber than I thought.

Is there really a true shutdown cornerback in the league? Those that are considered to be a shutdown CB play behind very good defensive lines/LBs that can put pressure on the QB. Not all, but most. Or they have a CB on the other side that is very good too. Nobody can defend a WR for very long. If a QB has 8 seconds to throw the ball, a defense is going to get chewed up, no matter how good it is. Look what Rodgers can do with time. Look what Barkley did to GB last year for the Bears. With no pass rush by GB he looked like a HoF QB.

The TKstinator's picture

How many shutdown corners are there in the entire NFL right now? I'd rather go with a ferocious pass rush and "legit" corners rather than the other way around. I also think a corner has to run faster than 4.7, no matter how sweet his 3-cone is.

vj_ostrowski's picture

Not many. And after last season, it could be argued that Sherman and Norman can't be counted among them anymore.

sonomaca's picture

What about Jones in round 2. He might be ready by December. Draft edge rusher early and hope Jones will be ready come playoff times.

sonomaca's picture

BTW, I'm just going to come out and say it: had the Packers signed Hayward, they might be Super Bowl champs right now. Furthermore, they might not be drafting a corner high this year, either.

4thand1's picture

Hayward became expendable due to his injury history. No one saw Shields being lost for good after game one. Shields loss was the biggest impact on the defense by far. Now he's gone and has to be replaced for good, hopefully House can fill in. The draft has to produce someone who can play right out of the gate.

dobber's picture

You're averaging one "might" per sentence there...

Packer Fan's picture

CB is the largest hole GB needs to fill on defense. Too much talent has been lost in the last few years. Williams , Hayward and Hyde to free agency and then Shields due to injury. Three for sure starting level CB's. House, Randall and Rollins do not equal what has been lost. Gunter has limitations with quality level receivers (I just don't understand signing a slow CB and then spending effort to develop someone who will never be a starter level CB). I keep remembering how Julio Jones beat Gunter off the line on the crossing pattern and Gunter not being able to catch up and then lunging to stop Jones. A killer in that game because it was obvious the defense was not going to stop Atlanta. GB needs big time CB help. Both from the draft and a veteran free agent. My suggestion is to trade Hundley to get another second round. Then fill CB, Edge & DL help. Also get a wily old veteran CB and see if he can provide leadership and fill in for injuries. Sure old CB's are slow, but compared to Gunter, what's the difference?

Finwiz's picture

Do the packers have a shutdown corner.
This has to be about the dumbest post/blog/article/comment ever on CHTV.
Presumably you haven't been watching much Packers football over the last 2-3 years?
Maybe it's Monday morning that's caused such a caustic post, but I doubt it.
Come on.

dobber's picture

"Do the packers have a shutdown corner."

But that's not the question being asked. The question was: "Do the Packers BELIEVE they have a shutdown corner?" The answer to each question can shape player acquisition and planning, but in very different ways.

davids's picture

Awesome blog good work keep it up.

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