The third installment of my Packer positional power rankings moves back to the defensive side of the ball, and examines what was the Packers’ weakest position last season, safety.
The Packers have addressed their deficiency at safety this offseason by drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the 1st round and by moving cornerback Micah Hyde to safety, at least for the time being.
The Packers currently have 7 safeties on their roster and they each fall into one of the categories below.
Impact Players – A potential Pro Bowler who opposing teams need to game plan for.
Solid Starters – An average to slightly above average starter.
Quality Backup/Role Players – A player who can start if needed and may also contribute on special teams. These players may also have some upside and untapped potential.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot – A player who may be fighting to make the final 53 man roster or even the practice squad
Between OTAs, training camp and the preseason there is a lot of time before the regular season kickoff, but here is how I see the Packers’ current group of safeties.
None. The Packers had some of the worst safety play in the NFL last season, and even if Morgan Burnett is able to regain his 2012 form, he still would not fall into the category of an impact player.
- Morgan Burnett – Burnett’s ranking is based on the hope that the Burnett the Packers see in 2014 is closer to the 2012 version than the 2013 version. After signing a large contract extension during the last offseason, Burnett’s play nose dived in 2013. Burnett went the entire season without recording an interception, a forced fumble or a sack, and received a -4.9 grade from Profootballfocus.com. Hopefully playing next to another quality safety will help Burnett regain his 2012 form.
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – As John Rehor pointed out in his last article, you shouldn’t read too much into OTAs. And despite Micah Hyde playing with the 1st team defense early in OTAs, expect Clinton-Dix to win one of the starting safety jobs by the time the season starts.
- Micah Hyde – It will be interesting to see how the Packers use Hyde during training camp. Mike McCarthy has been effusive in his praise for Hyde, and up to this point Hyde has been playing safety with the 1st team defense during OTAs, but if he is beaten out by Clinton-Dix for a starting safety spot, and I think he will be, will the Packers keep him at safety, or move him back to corner?
Quality Backup/Role Players
- Sean Richardson –Even though he is entering his 3rd season in the NFL, it’s hard to say what Richardson will bring to the Packers this season. He has missed 21 games during his first 2 seasons due to injury, but he has ideal size and speed for an NFL safety. Richardson could very well be a player whose roster spot is in jeopardy, but as of now, he looks to be fourth on the Packers’ depth chart at safety.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot
- Chris Banjo – Banjo played in all 16 games for the Packers last season including 1 start. During those 16 games Banjo had 19 tackles and 2 passes defended. Special teams will likely be Banjo’s ticket to making the opening day roster.
- Tanner Miller – Miller went undrafted out of Iowa where he had a productive career, starting 36 games over the past 3 seasons and racking up 222 tackles and 7 interceptions. He has good size and decent speed, and with a strong preseason showing, he could find a spot on the practice squad.
- Charles Clay – Undrafted out of Hawaii, where he played receiver until moving to safety in 2012, Miller is the least experienced safety on the Packers’ roster. Miller only started 7 games at safety, but his impressive pro-day, where he ran a 4.42 40 yard dash, caught the eye of the Packers. Clay is a long shot to make the Packers roster or even the practice squad, but he does have intriguing athleticism.
Ian Hanley is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @Ian_M_Hanley.
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