In 2015, the Green Bay Packers defense played well enough to get them into the playoffs despite the struggles of the offense. With a developing secondary and the most depth they’ve had at defensive line in years, I believe the Packers defense is about to become one of the better units in the entire league.
Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix make up one of the top Safety combinations in the league. Burnett has been playing at a near Pro Bowl level, and Clinton-Dix is entering year 3, where he will be expected to go from a solid player to a very good one. Sam Shields will provide solid coverage on the opposing team’s best Wide Receiver. The development of Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall, and LaDarius Gunter will determine how good the secondary can truly be. If those three players can build off of their rookie years, the Packers could have one of the better secondaries in the league.
The defensive line will need to improve against the run, but has as much depth as the Packers have had in years. Kenny Clark will look to solidify the middle in his first year. Mike Pennel and Christian Ringo will fight to provide the depth at Nose Tackle. Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, and Dean Lowry will take most of the snaps at the Defensive End positions. Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Datone Jones are all Outside Linebackers that can also play DE on 3rd down.
Kyler Fackrell and Jayrone Elliott will add to that pass rush mix, and Elliott may be the wild card when it comes to the Packers pass rush.
Inside Linebacker has been the position that has held the Packers defense back for several years. Advanced statistics show the Packers ILBs weren’t as bad against the pass as they appeared, but were often to blame for the big run plays that plagued the defense. Some combination of Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan, and Blake Martinez will be the starters on the inside. Carl Bradford and Joe Thomas will look to break into the rotation. An improvement at ILB would go a long ways to allowing the Packers defense to grow from good to great.
The Packers will need an improvement on both sides of the ball to win the Lombardi Trophy. I believe the defense will be the dominant unit this year led by the secondary, and will finish in the top 5 in the league in both points and yards against.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig