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Packers Hoping to Set the Table for the Future With Youth Movement at Cornerback

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Packers Hoping to Set the Table for the Future With Youth Movement at Cornerback

With less than a month until NFL teams are allowed to begin their offseason workout programs, the Packers find themselves with holes at multiple spots, the most significant being cornerback. And while general manager Brian Gutekunst has stood by his assertion that the team would be aggressive in player acquisition, the team hasn’t necessarily improved at corner.

They did add Tramon Williams, who, at 35, will rejoin the Packers for a second stint after spending eight years in Green Bay from 2007 to 2014. Williams, who spent last season in Arizona after playing two years in Cleveland, brings the average age of the Packers’ cornerback room up considerably.

Not including Williams, Green Bay currently has seven cornerbacks under contract, with only two over the age of 25:

  • Demetri Goodson (28)
  • Donatello Brown (26)
  • Quinten Rollins (25)
  • Josh Hawkins (25)
  • Herb Waters (25)
  • Lenzy Pipkins (24)
  • Kevin King (22)

Goodson’s future remains cloudy due to a gruesome knee injury suffered in 2016, causing him to miss all of 2017. Brown, meanwhile, spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad before being activated in November of 2017. Assuming the Packers won’t be counting on those two—along with Rollins, who is no sure thing as he works back from an injury of his own—to be major contributors on defense in 2018, the team will be left thin at cornerback as they begin offseason workouts a little less than two weeks before the draft.

In the NFL, no team sets out to have the oldest roster in the league. By that logic, of course the Packers want to go younger at cornerback—the average age of the room proves it. But if their relative inactivity in the free agent cornerback market goes to show anything, it’s probably that they don’t care—or aren’t able—to pony up the dollars it would have taken to sign the Malcolm Butler and Trumaine Johnsons of the world.

When Gutekunst did make a move on a high-profile corner, it was an offer sheet for Kyle Fuller, who had been slapped with the transition tag by the Chicago Bears. Fuller, at age 26, would have fallen right in line with the youth movement the Packers are apparently enacting at the position, but the Bears deemed the Packers’ offer worthy of a match, thus snuffing out Green Bay’s unorthodox (by their standards) attempt at acquiring a big-name player.

At this point, Gutekunst and the brain trust at 1265 Lombardi could very well be turning their attention to trying to set the table for the future, hoping to find one or two special talents in the draft who could impact the secondary immediately. If that is the case, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the team re-sign Davon House to add one more veteran voice to the room alongside Williams, with the two veterans essentially providing a bridge to the next generation of cornerback talent.

Whatever the case, it seems clear the Packers are focused on adding younger players to the mix, whether through the draft or elsewhere. And if Gutekunst and head coach Mike McCarthy’s comments about making the roster as competitive as possible hold true, Green Bay will likely send a lot of inexperience onto the field in 2018. The question is how quickly the young talent can assimilate to the pro game. When you bet on youth, you can hit a home run or it can blow up in your face. What will happen in Green Bay remains to be seen.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (47) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

sonomaca's picture

Connor Williams at #14 if James and Fitzpatrick gone?

OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

That's tough. I mean he's good, but think I'd rather trade down and pick up a 2nd if possible.

stockholder's picture

After selecting Spriggs I'd rather they didn't take a Ot.

GBPDAN1's picture

"Not including Williams, Green Bay currently has seven cornerbacks under contract, with only two over the age of 25:

Demetri Goodson (28)Donatello Brown (26)Quinten Rollins (25)Josh Hawkins (25)Herb Waters (25)Lenzy Pipkins (24)Kevin King (22)"

Remove King from that list and we are left with a bunch of nobodies . But that's ok, because we have 35 year old Williams who will hit the wall soon ( I hope not this year). We need help at edge pass rusher in the worst way and we should use our number one pick on one. That leaves praying for a quality, immediate starting CB in the 2nd rd and/or beyond. Do I hear crapshoot? CBs typically take time to develop, unless we land Ward who will go top 8.

Gut did a good job not picking up a top tier CB in FA. The only 2 players in our secondary that played ok last year were let go when we could have had both players for 6M this year as insurance policies.

We won't be going to the SB , or NFC championship game, this year folks. Unfortunately, it's been business as usual.

I'm a huge Packers fan , but I also understand reality. So, hit me with the thumbs down my overly optimistic homers.


( I truly hope I'm wrong, but, who's left in FA to grab at CB as quality starter?)

Tundraboy's picture

He's not done yet. Let's wait a bit and see.

flackcatcher's picture

R-E-L-A-X. Wait till after training camp to panic.....

GBPDAN1's picture

You guys are right, we need to wait until training camp to see what our ultimate 2018 team will look like , I just hope we (BG) didn't blow it by not landing a Top CB in FA.

4thand1's picture

With how bad the CB play has been, how has Goodson managed to stay on this team. Looks like we'll have a ton of unproven guys in TC, the final cutdown will be interesting.

Minniman's picture

I agree, the final cutdown (and play during pre-season matches should be interesting)

With last years draft (2017) being regarded as a deep draft for CB and S, this year will be an interesting ROUGH evaluation of the theory of stocking up on low rounders and UDFA's as according to this theory, the Packers should have obtained better prospects than otherwise available.

Tundraboy's picture

One positive is that we will know much sooner with Pettine, after this training camp for sure, who among this bunch of guys, can really play and stop deluding ourselves ultimately wasting another year of roster space.

nostradanus's picture

Williams and House are exactly what I was thinking from the start. Add a high and mid-round draft choice. That way they have a couple of veteran press corners to mentor the young guys. It's a stop gap measure for sure but it's kind of what they are left with after the Big $$ run on Corners early in free agency. Herr Gute still may have a trade up his sleeve with all of his draft capital. Teams get desperate during the draft and are sometimes willing to trade veteran guys for mid-round picks. The Packers are well positioned for this given they have the first pick in both the 4th and 5th rounds I believe. Those are valuable picks that another team may covet. I trust in Herr Gute, I believe he has a plan and he showed by the cutting of Jordy Nelson, he is going to do whatever he deems is best for the Packers as a team moving forward. That takes balls. Go Pack!

Lare's picture

This looks like a good draft to get defensive backfield help, there's talent at pretty much every level. The Packers can take BPA with their first couple picks and still get quality CBs in the middle rounds.

sonomaca's picture

Josh Jackson too many questions at #14. Worry about Landry’s ankle. Those never get 100% better. Davenport a risk.

Pack are in no man’s land at #14. Either trade up, trade back, or take an offensive lineman.

Ryan Graham's picture

OT Mike McGlinchey could be available at 14...otherwise I would think BG has something in the works. I personally don't see a point in trading back for picks but to receive a veteran player on defense then I could see that. Possibly a WR, but if he makes a move basck for picks he's gotta find a way to move back into the first as early as he can.

I like a lot of picks, I don't know that 12 or 13 is necessary. Sure you can find talent everywhere in the draft, but why not raise the chances of getting an immediate impact player if you have to resources?

Lare's picture

If the Packers take McGlinchey they could cut Bulaga & Spriggs save around $5 million in cap space. He has no known injury problems that I know of and they would be set at the RT position for years. That would go a long ways in helping to keep Rodgers healthy.

They could make worse moves at 14 than taking McGlinchey.

OrganLeroy's picture

So, you're going to start a Rookie RT then cut a starting RT who when healthy is one of the top RT's in the league, has 2 years left on his contract and then you're going to cut the #1 back up at RT. So, now you have no depth at T, zero! That's brilliant. I hope you're not a supervisor or manager.

Lare's picture

I'll agree Bulaga is good when he's healthy, unfortunately the Packers are paying him almost $8 million per year to sit in the training room for much of his career. And Spriggs, he's been another of TT's disappointing OL draft selections that struggles with consistency and his health and has a good chance of not even making the final roster this year.

Some people are willing to pay players millions of dollars to not do their jobs. Sorry, as someone that's been in management for over 20 years I am not one of those people.

Minniman's picture

Respectfully, Offensive Line is the one area where TT has done really well in..... especially in the later rounds. Durability can never be pre-empted, but this is a pretty good lineup!
Josh Sitton, 4th round
TJ Lang, 4th round
David Bakhtiari, 4th round
JC Tretter, 4th round
Corey Linsley, 5th round
Lane Taylor, UDFA

Bryan Bulaga, 1st round

The TKstinator's picture

You beat me to it!!

Nick Perry's picture

Ted HAS done well on the offensive line. The Problem is as it is with EVERY position of weakness on the Packers is what has done for the Packers LATELY?

His last 3 or 4 picks on the O-Line have been horrible. Sitton and Lang were ages ago. Bakhtiari and Tretter were in 2013, 6 drafts ago when you include this years draft. Lindsey came the year after.

Ted did well but he's taken just 3 offensive linemen since 2014 and they've all pretty much sucked. (2 6th rounders and 1 2nd rounder).

Tundraboy's picture

"Sure you can find talent everywhere in the draft, but why not raise the chances of getting an immediate impact player if you have to resources?"

Couldn't agree more.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Is keeping Spriggs on the roster really providing depth at RT?

Is keeping Goodson on the roster really providing depth at CB?

Or are we just checking the box on a fictional functional depth chart?

marpag1's picture

Agreed. It's like packing your cupboards and pantry full of styrofoam peanuts, and then saying, "Look, if we get hungry, the cupboard is packed full."

At corner and a few other positions, there are a lot of styrofoam peanuts in the Packers' cupboard.

flackcatcher's picture

Guys, Gut has not even begun shaping this years roster. There is a long way to go before preseason. After the draft will give a window into what the new GM and MM is thinking.

marpag1's picture

I'm certainly not saying that camp is right around the corner or that everything should be decided by now. I'm saying that as things currently stand, the cupboard is pretty empty at CB, and this is true no matter how many useless camp bodies and practice squaders may be under contract.

Eight million crappy players do not add up to even one good one. When it comes to tallying the value of guys like Goodson or Brown, the important equation is this: 0+0=0.

flackcatcher's picture

Tell me that after training camp is over, and then maybe you will have an augment. Until then...

stockholder's picture

D. Goodson 5' 11', D Brown 6', Q. Rollins 5'11", J.Hawkins 5"10" ,H. Waters 5'10, L.Pipkins 6', K. King 6' 3", Williams FA 6', -------------------Draft= Denzel Ward 5'11", Ohio State Josh Jackson, 6'1" Iowa Mike Hughes, 5"10" UCF Isaiah Oliver 6', Colorado Jaire Alexander 5"10", Louisville, Carlton davis 6'1" Auburn, Anthony Averett 5'11" AL. Jackson LSU 5"11". If size is any indication, they should not draft a CB early @14. I think Dontee Jackson could replace Rollins. CB Prediction is Round 2.

Razer's picture

Man Ted left a hot mess with that secondary! The fatal move was our 2015 draft with Randall and Rollins. I think we even added Goodson that year. And while I like the grit of Kevin King, ignoring his bum shoulder was foolish. Our safeties are not much better than the corner situation. Gutekunst has nowhere to go but up.

If Denzel Ward is available great otherwise work on the pass rush and position us for a decent second round CB.

marpag1's picture

I would probably argue that the REAL fatal moment was week 1 of 2016 when the Packers, through no real fault of their own, permanently lost a very solid starting cornerback in Sam Shields. People need to remember just how badly a team gets screwed whenever a prime contributor is lost without warning, and with absolutely no compensation for his loss. Yeah, in a perfect world - AKA Dreamland - the GM always has "the next man up" waiting in the wings, who is somehow miraculously better than your previous starter. But in the real world, that almost never happens, and your starters are your starters for a reason. When your best corner disappears in one single play and never comes back, it isn't very surprising that the team will have to scramble to find a suitable replacement.

Minniman's picture

That really was cataclysmic wasn't it. GB had just made their decision of Sam over Tramon the year before and Randall and Rollins had come off promising rookie seasons - allowing Casey Hayward to walk. There's your top 3 in the depth chart gone-ski. Sam goes down early, Randall and Rollins have injured and forgettable second seasons (especially without much true senior positional leadership) and the rest is history.

marpag1's picture

Yeah, there are so many trickle down effects from it. Like you said, Hayward walks. Then guys are pushed onto the field before they're ready. As a GM your hand is forced in the draft, having to reach for needs instead of BPA. You wonder what might have been different if guys like Randall and Rollins had been allowed to develop behind a solid front liner like Shields. Or if we might have grabbed TJ Watt instead of King if the CB room had looked a little stronger, etc. etc. But we'll never know the answers.

Demon's picture

1st time poster here. Personally i dont care who or what position they draft. With holes everywhere on the team if they get a player thats better than what they have, its a win.

I dont get to watch as much college football as i used to so for me to say they should draft any particular player would be wrong.

Just please get it right in the early rounds!

dobber's picture

Welcome! Keep contributing!

4thand1's picture

Welcome, new perspective is always good. Keep it simple BAP.

The TKstinator's picture

My softball nickname was White Lightning.
I think we may be kin.

Spock's picture

My first car was a '65 black Plymouth Fury3 I called "Black Beauty". At my summer job my starting day new co-worker had a '66 Plymouth Fury2 he called "White Stallion'. We hit it off from the start!

worztik's picture

Except for King, Tramon and maybe Pipkins, I am at a loss to see how we’re going to field a decent group of CBs! We don’t need NANES or HIGH SALARY players (I guess they’re really synonymous) but, it would be nice to have seen some names mentioned in draft mags or in so-called experts top 100, 200, etc.! I see a bunch of no name free agents that no ones talking about, yet, in any positive manner whatsoever!!! I’m referring to the Packer coaches and FO because their silence has been deafening!!! With a franchise QB and shutdown corners as the 3 most important players in my opinion, we have one for 4 years (ARod) but, no decent CBs unless King comes back really strong and if we pay ARod what he may be worth... we are screwed!!! We’ll have him and and JAGs until we get a rookie QB and his contract! To play rookie CBs is as bad or worse than playing a rookie QB!!! I don’t know what the answer is but, not the group of CBs listed in the post!!! I hope I’m really wrong... only time will support what I feel... just felt like commenting to get some down thumbs!!!!

The TKstinator's picture

The premier positions, as told by TK:
1. QB
2. LT
3. Pass rush
4. Shutdown corner

GB has the first two.
The third is iffy.
The fourth is far from decided yet.

4thand1's picture

We have shut down corners, we trade em or bench em.

OrganLeroy's picture

A general pick of BAP doesn't work when you need to upgrade the defense. BAP on defense @ 14 works, but not on offense. There's no way that McGlinchy is BAP on the Packers board @ 14. If Q. Nelson was BAP @ 14 you trade down, he's a Guard who can't play tackle, and we need depth at RT. Every one of our OL starters except Bulaga, were picked 4th & 5th round and Taylor is an UDFA. We don't need to waste a high 1st round pick on the OL when the defense needs the biggest upgrade of talent & depth.

Tundraboy's picture

This year that would be the definition of insanity.

Hagster's picture

I really think a dream come true would be if Derwin James fell to us at 14 (and even if he’s there at 8 or 9 area I think you really got to work the phones on trading up). I think he solves the most problems. He can play deep, in the box, slot corner, and can even be used as a pass rusher from the slot which could help solve some pass rush issues. At a time when three corners are almost always on the field and slot receivers are being implemented more and more in the offensive scheme, I’m just as concerned as who’s playing slot corner as who ever is playing opposite king. Not to mention I’m still not comfortable handing over the safety position over to jones and Brice. Especially when I’m guessing Jones plays most of his snaps in as a linebacker. I actually do like both of them I just would like to add one more versatile body to the group.

Tundraboy's picture

I'm coming to the same conclusions, but if an edge guy falls have to take one.

Bure9620's picture

Agreed, I actually think he is the best player in the draft, perennial pro bowler.

Duneslick's picture

Derwin james would be a great pick and can play several positions. Unfortunetey he can only play one position at a time. We will need a starting corner and a safety and at least 1 more corner for depth.

Since '61's picture

We can improve our CB situation by chucking Goodson.
I believe that Pettine must have someone in mind among Waters, Hawkins, and Brown for the slot. Otherwise why trade Randall? Especially for Kizer???
Unless they just had it with Randall's attitude and wanted him gone, which is what I suspect since it was one of the first moves Gut made.

We can and should still sign another FA CB and then draft 2 CBs and another safety. If we can get Derwin great if not maybe the latest version of Derrell Revis. Thanks, Since '61

DD's picture

DB's. Young, sequel to MASH. Very fragile. Let's hope they remain healthy. My guess is a few won't make it past training camp. Others hurt in pre-season. Welcome to 2018. New season, injuries to other DB's. Matthews, Cobb, and Baluga who won't finish a full season. All three kept to long. Am I thinking the worse? Based on past practice, yes! Hope not, but nervous.

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