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What can Gunter Bring to the Table?

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What can Gunter Bring to the Table?

I've made no secret about it and I've received tons of backlash for it, but I stand by my claim:

I do not believe the Green Bay Packers have very much depth at cornerback. 

Yes, you have the veteran presence of Sam Shields who has proven to be the leader of the corps. You also have the second-year duo of rising studs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. Behind that trio, then what? Demetri Goodson, whose performance has been mind-numbingly mediocre and also faces a four-game suspension to open up 2016 for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Yeah, I don't think those PEDs worked too well.

Although, some slack can be cut for Goodson who wasn't too shabby as a special teams gunner in 2015.

Shields, Randall, Rollins and Goodson for three-quarters of the season. But what of Ladarius Gunter?

The undrafted free agent spectacle out of the University of Miami earned high praise from cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, whose knack is turning young, inexperienced Packer corners into weaponry. It may be too early to rely on Gunter to stabilize the depth at that position, however. 

Five, technically four cornerbacks with the exception of Micah Hyde alternating between his natural position as a dime and nickel cornerback despite being converted to a safety.

The departure of Casey Hayward gives Gunter hope, as well as initiative to be bumped up an extra spot on the depth chart and likely ahead of Goodson.

The hype for Gunter is well-justified. When targeted during the preseason, he forced the lowest passer rating amongst any of his fellow corners with an interception and five passes defensed. The standout preseason performance and ball-hawking promise he showed, especially when splitting repetitions with the starters through training camp, ultimately earned him a roster spot.

The secondary may be the strongest aspect of the defense going into this new season. But a single injury can turn this "depth" the Packers supposedly have at cornerback into a scattered ruin of fitting developing players into roles they've yet to master. This would be tough, yet predictable luck for a team who was ranked as the "most banged-up team" by ESPN in October. Hell, and that was before even more injuries hampered the roster.

I'm personally not too firm of a believer in Gunter just yet. It takes more than a few preseason snaps and premature praise to solidify my hope in a prospect. With an extended role, it's likely Gunter can continue filling in for dime packages as well as using his 6-1 physique to lock down an outside receiver.

Until then, undrafted free agents like Robertson Daniel, Makinton Dorleant, Josh Hawkins and Randall Jette are going to have some eyes on them come training camp.

Important:

For years, Alicia Kramer has campaigned to get her father and Packer great, Jerry, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Her persistent efforts have caught the attention of Packer fans as well as football fans in general all across the nation. Kramer was a five-time First-team All-Pro and is a member of the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team. This will likley be Alicia's final year in pursuing the goal she had set out to accomplish for her father.

On Friday, July 8th, the mission will continue with "Jerry Kramer for Hall of Fame Day". Packers-oriented sites will join together in this effort and encourage readers to contact the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee with information you can reach them by soon to be provided.

Throughout the course of this Friday, sites such as Cheesehead TV, Acme Packing Company, Lombardi Ave., Packer Ranter and many more will dedicate the day to video clips from Kramer's career, articles, interviews and much more. 

For more information regarding the highly-deserved accolade for Kramer, contact Al Bracco at [email protected]

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

I know you've gotten a bunch of flak for stating that GB's corners are thin and underexperienced. And you should. As you stated yourself, it's quite possible the CBs are the best position on the defensive side of the ball top to bottom.

Yes, an injury to Shields and one other player would be concerning. I don't want Hyde at outside CB - nor do I want Goodson to make the team. And the undrafted CBs are wild cards with a lot of developing to do.

However, Shields is a proven #1. Randall is very promising. Rollins is just as promising. That's 2 outside CBs - and 1 that can play slot or outside. Gunter did look great last preseason and played well when he got a shot in the regular season. While I'd not be happy if he were the #1 or #2 going into the year, I'm perfectly comfortable with him as the #4.

Sure, things could go wrong. Heck, Aaron could get hurt, and Brett could stink and the season would be over. But JMO it is folly trying to project those improbable "ifs and buts" before the season even starts.

The bottom line is that Green Bay quite possibly has more talent and depth throughout the entire secondary than any other team in the league. I'm excited to see them dominate the competition. Now, if the front 7 comes to play, we'll have a GREAT defense.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Despite Shields missing about 400 snaps due to injury, including late season games like the playoff game against Washington, Gunter played 8 snaps. Burnett also missed about 400 snaps. Eidt: seems to be some trouble with Football Outsiders, which list Gunter with 8 snaps but also lists Gunter as having played 31 snaps in week 18. Either way, Gunter did not play - or arguably did not need to play - much last year.

Verdict is that Gunther wasn't ready last season. While many (including me) liked how he looked, we are relying on Gunter making a jump. He may do so.

Handsback's picture

Shields was an UDFA, but he had the speed of a West Texas dust storm and did pretty good his rookie year. Gunter doesn't have that speed, but he has a natural gift of great size and balance. Different attributes but both are needed to play in the NFL. When Santonio Holmes caught that pass from Roethlisberger to win the SB, he was covered by a pretty good and fast CB. The problem was he didn't have great balance or technique. So there is a place for players like Gunter as long as he plays within his strengths. So IMHO, you have to add him to the depth chart as a positive. Let's face it, Green Bay will have major injuries this year (They seem to lead the NFL every year.) To solve that issue, they have built depth in almost every area. The DBs should be a position of strength.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Gunter never looked as slow as that 4.6 40 time. I know Sherman ran some 40s that where just as slow. I wonder if Gunter just never really trained for the 40.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

They play a lot of Cover 3 but I've seen them play quite a bit of Cover 1 too.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Where the CB is looking tells you too. If he peeks back to the the QB it's probably zone, if he just watches the receiver then probably man. Watch Sherman cover Bryant.

I didn't dislike your comment above BTW :)

RCPackerFan's picture

The Packers CB position may not have a lot of proven depth, but I still think they are as strong at CB as anyone.

Shields is one of the better CB's in the league.
Randall was one of the best Rookie CB's last year.
Rollins has shown that he belongs and has the potential to be great.
Gunter in every bit of action he has played has proved himself ready to play.

I wouldn't trade our top 4 CB's for anyone else's in the league.

The depth behind that maybe thinner though. Hyde is a good slot CB but really can't be used full time at CB. Goodson hasn't shown much in games. And after that you have a bunch of UDFA's.

That being said, if there is anyone that can get the most out of those players its Joe Whitt. He is a tremendous CB coach. Don't be surprised if one or more of the UDFA's step up to play well enough to make the 53. Also don't rule out Robertson Daniel. He was promoted to the 53 late last year when they had needs at other positions.

dobber's picture

"I've made no secret about it and I've received tons of backlash for it, but I stand by my claim: I do not believe the Green Bay Packers have very much depth at cornerback. "

I would use the word "proven" in conjunction with the phrase "depth at CB"...there's a lot of potential in Randall and Rollins, but even they are still green.

I'm there with you. Frankly, I thought they should have invested a mid-round pick at CB, mostly because Goodson has shown that he's a liability in coverage and we know that Shields will miss time with some sort of injury at some point this season. A second injury to Randall or Rollins could be more than just debilitating for this defense.

I'm not saying that this defense has a glaring hole at CB at this time. What I'm saying is that beyond those first three (one of which gets hurt every year), there's a lot of supposition and guesswork. Gunter might be very good. So might Rob Daniel or whomever the #5 turns out to be. But at this point we just don't know to any great degree what lies beyond those top 3 on the depth chart.

dobber's picture

"Would you actually "know" more if they used a mid round pick on a CB? Not by any means."

You are absolutely right. The fact that they DIDN'T draft a CB after the loss of Hayward means the staff must believe that they've got guys who would compete at that level or better. I hope that belief is borne out.

"I have more expectations on R Daniel, than I do Gunter, to be honest."

Very intrigued by Daniel's measurables. Have to believe that his "issues" in college pushed him off draft boards, but he was in camp with the Raiders and didn't stick...so what's wrong?

oldfart's picture

GUNTER MAY TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF TT'S TOP PICKS. LOOK FOR HIM TO MOVE UP. ONCE HE IS COMFORTABLE WITH THE DEFENSE AND HIS SURROUNDING PLAYERS QUARTERBACKS WILL LIKELY AVOID THROWING IN HIS DIRECTION. LOOK FOR GUNTER TO GET MORE PLAYING TIME THIS YEAR AND WE WILL BE REWARDED! GO PACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Agree that Gunter could be a real find. Thought he should have been used over Goodson last year, but you don't have to yell. Turn up the hearing aid and down the volume Oldfart.

Point Packer's picture

Must be the long awaited return of LONGSHANKS.

lucky953's picture

Zach, who do you think has good cornerback depth? Hayward is a very good example. With the premium paid to good corners and the salary cap, a team would have to make significant sacrifices at other positions to keep 4 or 5 well-established corners. A team is fortunate to have one or two top level guys and then you're going to have to count on some unproven, cheaper guys to be able to step up. Fortunately, the Packers have Joe Whitt, one of the best in the business. We'll be fine at cornerback. It's the pass rush that has to be even better this year.

croatpackfan's picture

Well, I know lot of people here like Casey Hayward. I think that is because interceptions he made as rookie slot corner. But, after those nagging hamstring injuries, Casey never brought back that level of playing. So, to long for Casey is OK, but it looks like he is another player which abilities are ruined by unfortunate injury.
LaDarius Gunter is already better player than Casey when covering out. Look at him to be used to cover TE in slot very often, except if he will be injured.
But anyone who is building their roster trying to cover injuriesin FA and draft prior the training camp and season - it did not work, it does not work and it never work. Because in June you do not know what your needs will be on September, October, November, December, January and luckily, February!

Amanofthenorth's picture

Running out of ideas is all. Who can blame them? Won't be long though and a river of content shall once again flow like Blatz on tap.

LeagueObsrvr's picture

I think Goodson is basically a bust at this point. Gunter is a good prospect who I think will be a contributor at some point, and the jury is still out on guys like Robertson Daniel and Josh Hawkins. Will be interesting to see how things shake out in training camp.

EdsLaces's picture

Ok so 3 or 4 good cbs aren't enough? Name one team with 4 or 5 solid cbs ....it's Ok I'll wait.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The difference btw 3 good CBs and 4 good CBs is enormous. EDIT: The difference is what this article is about.

dobber's picture

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Nick Perry's picture

Ding, ding, double ding.

EdsLaces's picture

Yeah we all know that and we have anywhere from 3 to 5 depending on gunter and rollins. My point is nobody else has that many. Name me the 4th cb on any team.

dobber's picture

My argument is that the Packer pass rush, in recent years, has one that has taken its time getting to the QB (this is my perception). Many of the sacks and pressures develop as a result of coverage. The DBs may be making the pass rush look good...and that, I propose, is a function of having 4 solid CB...and a Hyde.

Nick Perry's picture

Excellent point. I made a comment on another site suggesting a secondary is as successful as it's pass rush. Look at the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Packers. Obviously the loss of Nick Collins played a huge role in the Packers last ranked pass defense that season.... but so did the sacks.

The Packers had 47 sacks in the regular season in 2010
They had 29 sacks in 2011.
They went from a top 5 Defense in 2010 to the worst Defense in the NFL in 2011.

IMO the Packers will rank in the top 7 in sacks this season. I really believe they'll get production from Perry and Jones, at least much more than they have the last few seasons. I think Elliot is another who will contribute. The Packers have a good young secondary, with a pass rush like Seattle's for example they could be great.
I like Gunter, at least he DID make plays in the preseason, something Goodsen has never been able to do. The Packers need Gunter to be a decent enough CB in the event of injury. Sam Shields has missed games every season, they'll need Gunter or someone to step up.

EdsLaces's picture

Thinking of Collins ....*tears up a little*

MarkinMadison's picture

I won't be shocked if Goodson gets cut. Being suspended for four games is bad. It's really bad when you don't bring a ton to the field in the first place. If he makes the final roster it says ore about Daniel and Hawkins than it does about Goodson.

I'm not sure if Gunter IS the real deal, but like some folks keep wanting Janis to be the real deal, I want Gunter to be the real deal. Either his speed isn't as bad as advertised or he is smart enough to make up for it in other ways. I like what I've seen.

Tundraboy's picture

This year especially I want both Gunter and Janis to be the real deal, along with Rollins and Randall.

idgafkurt's picture

It seems the author is mistaking experience for depth.

If Rollins and Randall continue to develop at the pace they did last year the Packers will have 3 top-tier CB's, something only a handful of teams can say.

Right now, I'd say only Denver, Arizona and Washington have better overall CB units, which makes the premise of this article hard to understand.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Yea, it's hard to NOT be excited for our current CB group for what they've shown so far and their expected level of play from here on out.

I don't know if there are any CB groups I'd trade for the Pack's. Mayyyybe the Broncos?? The Cards have a great CB and a great Safety -- I don't know about their other CBs.

I don't recognize anyone from Washington's secondary (outside of the old man Hall). Who are their top covers?

Spock's picture

Zachary, I have to agree with the majority of the other posters above: you've made your own argument to refute yourself. Cornerback is no different from any other "elite" position. Your basic argument is similar to the old "If (Rodgers, Brady) -insert elite quarterback- goes down, we are in trouble". Yeah, if you're playing with the backups to the starters depth is ALWAYS a problem. The Janis and Abby results in the AZ game wasn't typical of play from 4th and 5th players. Frankly, the reason the Packers beat Dallas with a one-legged QB1 was because our 3rd receiver was better than their 3rd corner. I like our 3rd and 4th corner's chances against another team! But, hey, it is the "dead zone" time for football articles so kudos to you for coming up with something to promote discussion!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Here is a link to PFF ranking the best 10 secondaries, written in week 17 of last year. They ranked GB 3rd. They have Hayward (80.5) as GB's best CB (so take this with a grain of salt), followed by Shields (78.5), Randall (75.5), Burnett (88.8) and Clinton-Dix (81.1). PFF notes that Rollins (80.0) isn't included, apparently due to lack of snaps.

So, this article seems to support the notion that GB's secondary is very good and has depth. Rollins could be substituted for the loss of Hayward (and would be an upgrade in any case, IMO). It certainly undermines my own uneasiness regarding personnel for the nickel and dime (though that was predicated on having an injury to one of the top 3 CBs).

These ratings do take into account run support and tackling. Dealing with just nickel and dime due to down and distance, I like Shields, Randall and Rollins. [I don't see a 4th CB who isn't a total question mark.] Arguably, Burnett and Dix seem to me to be less of a strength, maybe even a bit less than average in terms of pure coverage, but if the top 5 are healthy, the nickel package is fine. I have no idea who'd play in dime.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-top-10-nfl-secondaries-this-season-2/

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

BTW, I still think Rollins will be better than Randall.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

DPF - No question Randall has more physical talent - hence his ability to play more and earlier than Rollins. Measurables aren't everything. My prediction that Rollins in the end will be better is based on the eyeball test, perceived instincts in Rollins, gut, and is more of a bold prediction than a guarantee.

Anyone who accuses me (not saying you do, DPF) that I think that way because Rollins was my 2nd round draft crush, or because I liked Malcom Brown over Randall, would be casting gross aspersions on my character (and be only about 20% right!).

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=1001249&draftyea...
http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=127969&draftyear...

Nick Perry's picture

Does Randell being an Arizona State University product have anything to do with it Dan? : )

dobber's picture

"Here is a link to PFF ranking the best 10 secondaries, written in week 17 of last year. They ranked GB 3rd. They have Hayward (80.5) as GB's best CB (so take this with a grain of salt),"

We do talk about the flaws of PFF, but the reality is that there are precious few "metrics" out there that allow us to try to use an objective standard by which to compare players. Especially when we talk about positions that don't touch the ball very often and that don't tackle or cover. We use PFF the way we as a society tend to use any data: we like it when it supports our arguments and pfft at it when it doesn't (as a scientist, this is one of my pet peeves). Still, the eye-test needs to count for something.

"These ratings do take into account run support and tackling. "

Since we as a group tend to disparage Hayward (and support Rollins) for his tackling and run-support/pass-rushing instincts, how would his PFF numbers compare just based on coverage?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Your post amused me, Dobber. The PFF article did not support my earlier comment expressing concern over nickel and dime if one of Shields, Rollins or Randall got hurt. I've just got to deal with it, and post contrary data rather than ignoring articles that contradict me. Edit: I think we disparaged Hayward mostly because PFF thought he was God's gift to CBs, whereas many here knew/thought he had some limitations.

I don't have any data on any of our DBs ratings broken down by coverage, run support, tackling (I am sure its out there), so I can't answer your question.

dobber's picture

More of a rhetorical question, anyway... :)

Nick Perry's picture

I know you read PPF quite a bit TGR so I'm sure you saw this. Obviously this is one persons opinion but I found it interesting, especially what they mentioned about Rollins.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-ranking-all-32-nfl-cornerback-groups/

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This is a nice thread and article. I have had my opinion swayed a little about our prospects when in nickel and dime packages. I don't read this site to hold to my own opinion hammer and tongs - it is great when folks persuade me to alter my opinion!

Zachary Jacobson's picture

My goal with writing about this team is to give readers something entertaining to read and entice some kind of conversation. I want to spark debate amongst my readers and get each and every one involved. Whether I'm agreed with or bashed for my stance or not. If I can get readers to engage with each other and get a variety of different opinions to clutter the comments section, I did my part.

oldfart's picture

I LIKE WHAT I SEE OF R. DANIEL SO FAR. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO WATCH BOTH GUNTER AND DANIEL DURING PRESEASON. THEY BOTH HAVE THE SIZE TO DEFEND BIGGER AND TALLER RECEIVERS. ALSO, I HAVE A QUESTION FOR SANDPOINT. WHATS YOUR BET THAT THAT THE PACKERS WILL BE AHEAD A HALFTIME AGAINST THE COLTS IN PRESEASON?

Icebowler's picture

I see Gunter's role as covering a big WR like the Viking's rookie Treadwell and also the big TE's. That's someone we haven't had for awhile. I sure hope he's up to the task. Rollin's is the key because, unlike Hayward, he can also play on the outside, if needed. If Shields and Randall can stay healthy all year, we could have a great year in the defensive secondary.

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