The Packers’ defense has had its share of struggles over the past few years, but the play from their cornerbacks has generally been positive. Since 2010, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have been one of the better cornerback tandems in the NFL , and the addition of Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde have solidified the Packers’ depth at the position.
The Packers currently have 9 cornerbacks on the their roster (Micah Hyde makes 10, but I have ranked him with the safeties) and I have ranked each of them into one of the following categories.
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 the practice squad.
Here is how I currently rank the Packers’ cornerbacks.
- Sam Shields –Shields signed a massive 4 year $39 million contact this offseason, so expectations are sky high for him going into the season. He is coming off one of his best seasons, recording 4 interceptions and 16 passes defended, often while being matched up with the opposition’s best receiver. The only obstacle standing in Shields way of becoming one of the best corners in the NFL is his health, Shields has yet to play in all 16 games during a season.
- Tramon Williams – In 2010, Williams looked like a budding superstar, intercepting 6 passes in the regular season, and another 3 during the Packers’ post season Super Bowl run. But after suffering a shoulder injury in the opening game of the 2011 season, Williams’ play declined a bit in both 2011 and 12. Williams then suffered a knee injury in training camp in 2013, limiting his effectiveness early in the season, but as he recovered from his injury, his play increased dramatically. What separates Williams from Shields on this list is age. At 26, Shields should continue to improve, while at 31, Williams’ best days are likely behind him.
- Casey Hayward – Hayward, who finished 3rd in defensive rookie of the year voting in 2012, could have been the top ranked player on this list if his sophomore year was anywhere near as productive as his rookie year, where he recorded 6 interceptions and 21 passes defended. Instead, Hayward’s second season was all but lost because of a hamstring injury. If Hayward is back to 100% this season, and there is no reason to think he won’t be, he could be one of the Packers biggest playmakers on defense.
Quality Backup/Role Players
- Davon House – After missing much of his first 2 seasons due to injury, House was able to stay healthy for the entire 2013 season and started 5 games. House has value as both a special teamer and a spot starter, but with his contract being up at the end of the 2014 season, he will need to show improvement if he hopes to get a contract extension with the Packers.
- Jarrett Bush – Bush has had his share of ups and downs while with the Packers. Although he has been a core special teams player, Bush has struggled when actually having to play defensive snaps. He did play well versus Atlanta in week 14 of last year, and he had a huge interception in Super Bowl XLV, but special teams will again be Bush’s ticket to making the Packers’ final roster.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot
- Demetri Goodson – On the plus side, the rookie has good size for a corner, and he is excellent athlete, playing college basketball at Gonzaga before transferring to Baylor. On the down side, because of his time playing basketball, Goodson is relatively inexperienced, and he will be a 25 year old rookie. Goodson also has an extensive injury history, missing most of the 2011 and 12 seasons. If the top 5 corners stay healthy there may not be room on the roster for Goodson, so he may need to settle for a spot on the practice squad.
- Jumal Rolle – A 2nd year player out of little know Catawba College, Rolle was promoted from the practice squad to the 53 man roster in December of last year, but was not active on gameday. Rolle also spent time with both the Bills and Saints before being picked up by the Packers. Rolle is a long shot to make the Packers’ roster, but the landing on the practice squad could be a possibility.
- Antonio Dennard – Dennard spent time with the Jaguars and Giants before being signed to the Packers’ practice squad in December. Dennard played at Langston, a small college in Oklahoma, and has a reputation for being a physical corner. Like Rolle, making the 53 man roster is highly unlikely, but he could fight for a spot on the practice squad.
- Ryan White – An undrafted rookie out of Auburn, White started 2 games for the Tigers in 2013 and had an interception, and forced a fumble. White also served as the holder on kicks. Unless there are a rash of injuries, White will have an uphill battle to even make the practice squad.