The Green Bay Packers entered the 2016 season with a lot of hope at Cornerback. Sam Shields was on the cusp of becoming a Pro Bowl player, and Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins looked very promising entering their second year. By the end of the season, the position was arguably the worst unit in the NFL, and prevented Green Bay from having a chance in the NFC Championship Game. Through additions and internal development, the hopes of the 2017 season may rest largely on the Packers getting better production from their Cornerbacks.
Bringing back Davon House was a solid move to start. While he never lived up to his contract in Jacksonville, Davon was a solid player and a veteran presence. He uses his strength and physicality to jam receivers at the line. He could be the Packers number one CB if necessary, but if he is forced into that role Green Bay is unlikely to be in position to win another Super Bowl.
Kevin King provides all the attributes of an elite defender. He’s 6’3” with 4.4 speed, and he’s got great length and ball skills. If he can pick up on the fundamentals of the position and learn to deal with players who will be stronger than him initially, he could be the rare rookie who can start on the outside.
Damarious Randall will look for a bounceback year. It was apparent in the playoffs that Randall’s confidence was shattered. Getting healthy and having a full offseason of motivation should help him get back to the promise he showed as a Rookie. I believe Randall will have a big year and become the slot corner the Packers will need.
Quinten Rollins and LaDarious Gunter will be fighting for a roster spot. Rollins regressed greatly last season. He was sloppy with his footwork, and looked very unathletic (despite being a really good athlete). The expansion of his role seemed to be too much for Rollins, and he’ll have to have a big offseason to re-install the coaching staff’s confidence in him. Gunter was placed in a no-win situation. As a second year undrafted rookie, he was asked to cover the league’s top Wide Receivers week after week in the playoffs. He did an admirable job, but just doesn’t have the top end speed to do that consistently. Gunter can’t be the number one CB on your team if you want to win, but he has the ability to be a great depth player.
Herb Waters may be the most talked about breakout candidate this season. The converted Wide Receiver has taken to the CB position quickly, and has a really good chance to make the roster. Demetri Goodson has been a good Special Teams player for the Packers, but has yet to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Josh Hawkins showed some promise as an undrafted rookie last year, and will look to make an impact on the active roster. Several undrafted rookies (who all have great names) will look to take a place on the Practice Squad: Lenzy Pipkins, Raysean Pringle, Donatello Brown, and Daquan Holmes.
Active Roster: Davon House, Kevin King, Damarious Randall, Herb Waters, LaDarious Gunter
Practice Squad: Donatello Brown, Josh Hawkins
Other NFL Rosters: Quinten Rollins, Demetri Goodson
I think the Packers only keep 5 CBs on the Active Roster because they have so much depth and Safety, and Josh Jones may be able to play as a hybrid player (ala Micah Hyde). Regardless of who makes the roster, the Packers will need to see a massive jump in production from the Cornerback position to be a viable contender this season.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