There is probably no better poster child for the way that the Green Bay Packers build their team than Tramon Williams. Tramon was an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech signed by the Houston Texans in 2006. He was released in the final cuts. Williams was signed by the Packers. He secured a roster spot in 2007 and became the third corner in nickel sets with established stars Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Williams became a starter in 2009 and became an elite corner in 2010. His performance in the 2010 playoffs will not soon be forgotten by Packers fans. As the Packers do, they rewarded Williams with a new contract after that season worth over $33 million.
It can also be almost assumed that in the 2015 offseason, the Green Bay Packers will continue to be the Green Bay Packers and the then 32 year old Williams will probably not be brought back. His exit will leave the starting cornerback position opposite Sam Shields open. As per usual Ted Thompson would appear to have prepared for this. Over the past few years he has collected talented young corners Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House. The general idea was probably that when Williams moved on the three of them would battle for the starting corner and nickel position and the “loser” would become the 4th corner and would continue to be a special teamer.
The problem with that idea is that Micah Hyde is a starting safety, Casey Hayward might be too good as an inside corner to move outside and Davon House’s rookie deal is set to expire after this season when Tramon’s does. If nothing is done about this situation (unlikely), next season Hayward will have to play out of position as an outside corner and slide inside to nickel corner where Jarret Bush (gasp!) Demetri Goodson, Jumal Rolle, a free agent or a high draft pick will have to play outside. Another option would be to slide Micah Hyde down to play nickel and keep Hayward outside, where as I have mentioned is not his best position.
The thing that would make the absolute most sense would be to insert Davon House into the Tramon Williams role. They’d have two guys in Sam Shields that start outside every game and play every snap outside. Let Capers throw his mix of Hayward and Hyde at the slot receivers. The scary thing about that proposition is that in order to do that the Green Bay Packers have to sign Davon House to a new deal. For better or worse we have no idea what Davon House can do in a full time role. It’s very hard to know what his worth is.
The only way to find out if House can play is to get him on the field. Unfortunately, whether because of his skill set or because of decisions made by the coaching staff, House doesn’t play in the slot. He’s almost exclusively an outside corner in a way that no other corner on the roster except for Sam Shields is. In order to get House on the field Tramon Williams has to cover the slot and Casey Hayward needs to hit the sideline in nickel. That doesn’t seem to be the best use of the team’s personnel. Capers appears to also have decided that his best dime package is with 3 CBs and 3 safeties, bringing first round pick HaHa Clinton-Dix in at safety and dropping down Micah Hyde. This once again makes the decision Hayward vs. House. With the team showing interest in defensive back Jumal Rolle the waters have been muddied even further.
The Green Bay Packers need to let Davon House play if they are going to be able to accurately gauge whether he is an effective player. They need to accurately gauge whether he is an effective player if they are going to sign him to a new contract. I just don’t think that you can take Casey Hayward off the field to find this out. More likely than not there will be an injury in the secondary at some point in the season that will shift the defensive backs into a point where House gets regular playing time. If that doesn’t happen, however, the Packers are stuck in a difficult position trying to find a starter at a premium position in 2015.