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Packers Still Relying Heavily on Kevin King and Josh Jones

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Packers Still Relying Heavily on Kevin King and Josh Jones

For the second consecutive year and the third time since 2015, the Green Bay Packers used two picks in the first two rounds of the NFL draft on defensive backs in 2018. 

It's easy to see why the Packers did it. Jaire Alexander was one of their top targets all along. He fell to the perfect spot. Then Josh Jackson, another corner Green Bay really liked, fell into the second round and Brian Gutekunst wisely pulled the trigger.

That has created a lot of excitement about the secondary, especially with the addition of Tramon Williams. It seems like the Packers might finally have the cornerback depth they need to compete defensively, hopefully, ending the days of the backend getting eaten alive. 

Yet, if that's going to happen, it's going to take more than Alexander and Jackson. Both are young and the expectations should be tempered. 

Williams will certainly be in the mix for one starting position and the other will likely go to King, the top pick from Green Bay's 2017 NFL draft. The nickel job could be Alexander's or there could even be some type of rotation if Jackson and Alexander both play well early.

That is an ideal scenario. Of course, the Packers want Alexander and Jackson to contribute right away and maybe they will. However, the team also needs to find a way to get the most out of Jones and King.

King dealt with injuries last season and that limited him. He wound up playing in nine games and starting five. He broke up five passes and was physical in the run game. But then again, the Packers didn't pick him to stop the run.

Yet, King showed promise and he will need to deliver on that this season. But in the secondary, he isn't the only second-year guy that needs to step up. The other is Jones.

While King is embroiled in a corner depth chart that is fairly stout, when it comes to the safety position, Green Bay isn't quite as deep. 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the mainstay. The other two guys contending to start are Kentrell Brice and Jones. Brice could work his way into the mix, but if we are being honest, the job is Jones to lose.

When the Packers picked Jones, they hoped to use him in a hybrid role, similar to how they employed Morgan Burnett a season ago. Unfortunately, Jones struggled in the role. He did notch two sacks and intercept a pass, but his play will need to be better.

That's true of King too. The Packers, as well as their fans, should be excited about Alexander and Jackson. But let's not forget, King and Jones are a pretty important part of the future too and if the Packers defense is going to take a step forward in 2018, both will need to break out. 






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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

davy jones's picture

Which position is it generally considered harder to transition from college to pro at--safety or Corner? I'm just wondering what most people think is tougher.

holmesmd's picture


Lare's picture

I would say safety. At corner it's generally press coverage so they just have to man-up with a WR and stay with them in either man coverage or in their zone.

Safeties are almost totally in reaction mode based on what the play is. They need to be able to read the play and either cover over the top of the CB's, cover plays across the middle, cover the TE in a post route, fill in on running & screen plays or blitz.


Archie's picture

Gutey executed his plan, beginning with the shedding of Damarious Randall. The interesting question to me is what would he have done if NOR hadn't dangled their 2019 #1 pick. Would he have still drafted Alexander or would he have gone for Tremaine Edmunds who did not figure to fall to 14? Gutey probably saw Jackson falling into R2 as too good to be true. Adding Burks completes the picture. If King and Jones are the real deals, the SEC issues in GB may be a thing of the past. Of course, HHCD, the selfish quitter, sucks and we need to move him and the sooner the better.

stockholder's picture

The trade down was the goal. They got the extra first, and knew a CB set their draft. It was a win win. Alexander was then the target.

stockholder's picture

Is Ha Ha a mainstay? I would move him around like Burnett. He's slower than Brice. And Brice is ready to jump. (49 tackles 1 INT.) And I believe Dix could play SS. Leaving Jones to move around still.

holmesmd's picture

The suggested transition to SS would have needed to begin over the off season. Ha would need 10-15 lbs to play SS. I also don’t know if he has the “hitting” temperament to play SS? I don’t know how you move Ha to SS with J JONES in your group? Ha plays best in space in the secondary, not in the box IMO.

stockholder's picture

Comparison: Dix 6'1" 208, Burnett; 6'1" 209. I feel Dix knows where to be, more than Jones. And can tackle. He can get people to fumble. But does not have that " Hitting" we all like. At 4.5 he's going to get slower. But I want turnovers. He will be better than Burnett and Jones in that stat. It's obvious Jones still can be a SS. But I'm looking at more freedom for Jones to move around, and make the defense faster. I think drafting Jackson cb was a dream scenario for the packers. Williams could make the switch to FS now, like was talked about before he left..

Tundraboy's picture

Dix at SS? Hahaha.

HankScorpio's picture

I recall reading that Pettine said he like to use his Safeties interchangeably. It is one of the ways he disguises intention without putting in different plays.

Packer Fan's picture

Other than Tramon Williams, everyone needs to prove themselves. Whether from injury, bad play or inexperience. There is talent, but multiple people need to step up. However, with a new coach, a fresh start and competition within the players, I think the Pack will do just fine.

Turophile's picture

You are right that nothing is proven now. Most players (in the DB units) haven't had much chance to learn their positions and strut their stuff.

However, the number of recent high DB picks (King, J.Jones, Alexander, Jackson are all first or second rounders) suggest it could be a very good and talented unit for years. J.Jones is also training at Safety more now, with the drafting of a coverage type ILB, in Oren Burks.

Rollins is also moved to Safety, which is where he always should have been. He may do nothing, but he at least gets a fighting chance.

PatrickGB's picture

On paper we look better. But then so do many of our rivals. As many have posted it’s up to the new DC to make it really happen in the games where it really counts. I see depth and potential on defense this year. And if it doesn’t actually happen then GB has a very good offense to take up the slack.

Bedrock's picture

The slot will possibly be manned by matchups based on the strengths of Alexander and Jackson unless one of them, or a dark horse, shows a clearly better camp. I’m already thinking of slot guys we’ll face and which guy to shut him down.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I'm expecting a monster Year 2 jump from King and Jones. Dix appears to be playing his last year in Green Bay, so look for him to up his game dramatically while auditioning for outside suitors. However, if other young safeties like Brice and Evans show well in camp, a trade involving Dix isn't out of the question.

I don't think Jones failed in the hybrid role as much as McCapers failed to keep him close to the line and shooting gaps--which was clearly Jones's strength. After tearing it up early on while playing to his strengths, Jones was banished to shagging fly balls in center field.

Here's hoping Pettine won't make such an insane mistake.

Archie's picture

Gutey's year 1 is a redo of Ted.

How so?

1 - Taking two DBs with the top 2 pics for the 2nd year in a row and 3rd time in recent history. TT couldn't seem to get it right. Gutey may have, with a free #1 pick next year to boot.

2 - Signing two FA TEs - Again, same as last year by Ted and even the year before, a top TE was signed. Ted's ill fated move last year to trade a sure thing at TE for M Bennett was just too much to take. Graham and Lewis may be just what the Pack needs in 2018.

3 - Multiple middle round picks on WRs - Again, Gutey did exactly what Ted did last year except maybe he did much better.

4 - Packers' hunt for a back-up QB may be finally over - Ever since the Brian Brohm example Ted was swinging and missing at back-up QB. Again, Gutey may have landed it.

5 - ILB who can cover - Ted refused to draft a modern ILB. Gutey made one a priority and traded up in R3 to get his man.

6 - Long snapper - GB has been suffering in recent years at this position - Gutey went out and grabbed his guy - problem solved?

So in many ways, Gutey has used his first year to make up for Ted's recent major failures. Can't wait to see what he does for an encore and beyond, especially with two #1 picks in 2019 and maybe lots more cap money to spend. I think 3 years into Gutey's reign and we may not recognize this team.

Gutey also augmented the DL with acquisition of Mo. And early comments by Pettine are very positive for Montravius Adams.

Biegel is healthy and set for 2018 as is Reggie Gilbert. Fackrell remains a question mark. Blake Martinez will prosper even more in new defense as he won't be asked to do what he's not good at - cover guys.

I also liked that Gutey picked up a dancing bear in R5.

Another 2018 bonus may be Sprigges is finally blossoming into the OT everybody expected when he was drafted.

Since '61's picture

Archie - good post. I agree with your points but most of all I hope that you are correct about Spriggs. If Spriggs fulfills his potential the right side of our OL looks very solid. If not we'll be shaky until/if Bulaga returns.
Thanks, Since '61

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I too have high hopes for Spriggs. Look for him to break out this season.

Archie's picture

Yes, IF Spriggs comes through it will be like another bonus pick. Fingers crossed.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I totally agree, and man, this post is a brutal indictment of Ted.

Gute is the fire department, putting out Ted's ruinous blaze.

cap'n kirk's picture

I think we all know Ted screwed up, when he passed on Watt. King has potential, but he missed a bunch of games in college due to injury (shoulder included) &, go figure, hurts the same shoulder his rookie year. He's too frail to play in the NFL - big RBs & TEs will destroy that thin body. To be honest, Ted screwed up A LOT since 2011. Randall, Rollins, Fackrell, Spriggs (Deion Jones), Thornton, Datone, Worthy, Sherrod are all Rd 1-3 complete BUSTS. The good news, is that Gutey nailed 3 of his top 4 picks in this draft, & maybe even more importantly, filled in gaps with proven free agents, where Ted would have stood pat. We finally have a DEF coordinator that will hold guys accountable, & is able to develop new schemes. Dom had become beyond predictable - it's amazing McCarthy doesn't get more heat for his loyalty to Dinosaur Dom. The Packers are FINALLY headed in the right direction.

Turophile's picture

No captain, we DON'T all know Ted screwed up by not taking Watt.

First, the Packers knew about King's shoulder (he had the surgery on it in the offseason), and they took him anyway - they didn't see him as frail, just that he had a problem that needed fixing. There is real upside to his rare combo of height and fluidity, as well as the risk in being tall and skinny. He was at 180lb (which is light), but he could be 190 now for all I know.

Second, if you are talking about passing on Watt you must decide if T.J.Watt will be better than both King AND Biegel (because that was what they got from trading back and passing on Watt).

Third, you haven't given it nearly enough time to play out. Both King and Biegel needed time to be ready. The decision on whether the Pack should have drafted Watt instead, can be decided by the end of 2019. Before that, you haven't given the players a proper chance to do their thing. Maybe if you are really impatient (which you obviously are) you will get a sense of all their values by the latter part of the 2018 season, not before.

You are letting your dislike of TT lead you into trying to force-fit failure into his decisions. There is nothing wrong with pointing out mistakes (so much easier to do with hindsight), but you need to give them enough time to see that they ARE mistakes.

cap'n kirk's picture

Having TOO MUCH patience has been a big part of the problem over the last half dozen years. I don't dislike Ted, but his drafting has been sub-par, at best, since the SB. His refusal to trade/sign vets & rely solely on the draft, has been down right embarrasing. Time to take off the green & gold glasses, bud. You can apologize to me after the 2019 season. Watt will be an All-Pro in 2 years. King will be our 3rd best CB, & I'll bet you he misses multiple games again this year. I have more hope for Biegel.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

A lot of good posts!

Lot of optimism and a lot of unknowns this year and I like it. All a sudden and first time for a long time Packers are not a slam dunk to win division or make playoffs. New coaches, new VP of football Operations who is being more creative in improving roster. Better tight ends and WR's, DB's, and DL, etc. Rodgers back and hungry to prove himself along with large contingent of 2nd and 3rd year players, and those from IR.

I'm pumped!

croatpackfan's picture

I will add just one observation. When you start to compare TT and BG drafts, I would like to see options TT had compared to options BG had.

How many top corners were on board when 2 seasons ago TT was picking Kevin King? What options did TT had on 3rd day of the draft regarding WRs? Did any other team get better late round receiver than those who were selected by Packers - which one?

Also, most of you love Kenny Clark - who drafted Clark? Clark becoming beast, but why we are so inpatient with Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel? Kevin King played well to excellent through the injury... Josh Jones showed us (Bengals game) he can be valuable addition to the team. Who drafted 3 RB you are all salivating thinking about them (Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams)? Are you sure that Devante Mays will not make jump in year 2 and show to all of us he can be part of the rotation?

So, I do not say TT was mistake-free (regarding drafts), but when is good, we should recognize that!

White _tornado's picture

Croat im sure over the last 5 or 6 tears that capers may called the correct play once or twice too but that doesnt mean i want him back. Occasionally even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Glad youre not the team owner!!

croatpackfan's picture

I'm not saying that TT should be back. But I think many are not fair to the man. That is all. When is due pay the tribute. As well as when someone make/made mistake it is OK to mention that mistake. There is no mistake-free GMs.

You'll learn with age that nothing is black and white - there is more than 50 shades of gray in between! Or, if you like more from no color (black) to all colors (white) there is the whole rainbow spectrum of colors...

To spit on the man who lies on the ground is disgraceful act!

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