Last season the Green Bay Packers had the deepest CB corps in the NFL. Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, and Davon House were all capable of starting outside. Casey Hayward was the best slot corner in the league and Micah Hyde effectively bounced between safety and slot corner. Jarrett Bush was a special teamer with experience in the dime and Demetri Goodson was the up and coming prospect who couldn’t get time on defense. My, how things have changed.
Tramon Williams and Davon House both left for deals on bad teams (Cleveland and Jacksonville) for much more money than it appeared they would get from the Packers. Jarrett Bush remains unsigned. The Packers now sit with Sam Shields as their only proven option outside. Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward are both capable and versatile playmakers, but their ability to cover on the outside is in question.
The Packers are not without current prospects. Goodson has basically told Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he’s going to shut down the league. At 6’0″ Goodson has the length to be an outside corner. His 4.5 40 and 37″ vertical adds to the promise. Tay Glover-Wright is another size-speed project that spent last season on the Packers’ practice squad. He’s even faster than Goodson but probably just as raw.
Class Strength: 6/10
There’s about 10 guys that I am interested in taking in either round 2 or 3. I’m not interested in ANY of them in round 1. I haven’t found one corner that I find to be a complete player. There’s a more succinct way to express my feelings towards this class and you can find that in this Pro Football Focus podcast. Trae Waynes is an elite athlete, but his lack of awareness is troubling. He’s not really someone that I’m worried about. It’s highly unlikely he makes it to Green Bay.
Marcus Peters is the player that starts my worries about the Packers possibly selecting a corner in the first round. He’s supposedly a complete player with attitude issues. He was dismissed from Washington’s team but his attitude problem might be deeper than that. I’ve seen more than one occasion where he would have been thrown out of a game had it been an NFL officiating crew. He’s also too physical. Thompson likes physical corners but there’s stuff he won’t get away with in the NFL that college officials didn’t call.
I like PJ Williams, Quentin Rollins, Kevin Johnson, Byron Jones, Kevin Johnson, Alex Carter, Ronald Darby, Jalen Collins and Eric Rowe as early to mid-round options. These are all guys I’d be excited about and they’re exciting tools for Joe Whitt do deal with. The two guys that I like later than that actually both went to the same school: Oregon. Troy Hill and Ifo Ekpre-Olumu bring different things to the table but I really like both players. Olumu is a shorter guy who might end up having to play the slot. Hill did a great job all season, only allowing 45.3% of passes thrown his way to be completed.
Packers Positional Situation: B
Sam Shields is now the team’s unquestioned #1 corner. He’s going to more than likely shadow the opposite team’s #1 WR without a viable outside mate. He’s had an up and down career but continues to have the elite physical traits that COULD make him an All-Pro player. He’s greatly improved his tackling but his coverage ability needs to continue to improve. Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward, if there were a viable outside cornerback would be the best set of inside corners in the league.
The lack of a surefire player to pair with Shields on the outside is possibly either leaving a problem in the secondary or a (potential) misplacement of Casey Hayward or Micah Hyde outside. Tay Glover-Wright and Demtri Goodson are the current options to play outside. Jarett Bush has not (yet) been re-signed.
Packers Level of Need at CB: 8/10
The Packers haven’t invested much in the position over the years. Shields and the departed Williams were both undrafted guys. Goodson and Glover-Wright are too. Teams select corners highly all the time, just not the Packers. Joe Whitt, the Packers cornerbacks coach is a wizard, but he is continuously saddled with projects. It wouldn’t kill the Packers in the short term to take a guy who’s a little more talented.
Imagine if Whitt were afforded a more talented group of players to work with. I’m not saying that guys like Hyde and Hayward aren’t talented. I’m just saying they’re great playmakers. It’d be nice if the Packers had some potentially great corners. A lot of people say a lot of things about Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers but if he ever got a corner who could truly take away one side of the field, the things he could do with the other 10 players would be very, very exciting.
The underrated part of the whole cornerback situation is that the Packers need to have enough talent on the outside so that they can play with a single high safety. Until the team is better against the run in the front 7, Morgan Burnett is going to have to play near the line of scrimmage and defend the run.
Round to Start Targeting CB: Round 2
It’s not that I don’t think the Packers need a corner. I think they do. I think specifically they need to add an outside corner who’s at the very least 5’11”. It’s that I don’t want any of these guys in the 1st round. Maybe if they really like one of these guys (and they certainly know more than I do) I’d welcome a trade down into the top half of the second round if they can add another mid round pick.
The difference between my #1 ranked corner and my #10 ranked corner just isn’t that different. I think they all have potential. I think they could all start and be effective for the Packers. I just don’t think enough of #1 to not be OK with “settling” for #10. As long as they get a guy from that list of 10 I really don’t care that much. What I don’t want is them to pick a player who isn’t on the same level as another player, just because they need a cornerback.
My Favorite Fit for the Packers: PJ Williams, Florida State
I actually mocked Williams to the Packers here. He was one of my favorite corners in this draft. Then he got picked up for DUI. That kind of thing can send a prospect sliding down the boards of NFL teams. My hope is that changes Williams from a late 1st/early 2nd round guy all the way down to where Green Bay picks in the second round.
His athletic measurables are off the charts. He’s also a fantastic tackler. Joe Whitt can pretty much handle everything else. Williams and teammate Ronald Darby were the best corner tandem in college football for the last two seasons. He’s an outside guy that Whitt could get ready to contribute on a regular basis by the time the 2015 playoff run starts.