The former fifth-round selection out of Penn State by the rival Chicago Bears, safety Adrian Amos signed on with the Green Bay Packers for four years and $36 million last offseason. And after his first season with the Packers, it is safe to say they made the right decision in terms of which safety to invest in, long term.
Before Amos was brought in, HaHa Clinton-Dix was on the Packers, and his football pedigree (having come from the University of Alabama), combined with the skills that he had showcased for the Crimson Tide, gave the Packers a lot to look forward to once he entered the league. All that HHCD ended up doing once he got to GB was to not live up to his draft slot, produce a questionable effort on the field (including seemingly giving up on plays and taking others off completely), and leave a very sour taste in the mouths of the front office that used a 2014 first-round selection on him.
Clinton-Dix was subsequently traded to the Washington Redskins during the 2018 season (which was the final season of his rookie deal and GB showed no signs of wanting to resign him), and he finished out the year with Washington. That next offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Bears in an attempt to replace Amos, and while he put up 16 starts, 78 tackles, and two interceptions in 2019, that was not enough for the Bears that he was in their future plans, and did not resign him (he later signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys).
But the focus here is not how bad the taste was that Clinton-Dix left in the mouths of Packer faithful, but instead how Amos has transcended from the safety he was in Chicago to the safety that he is now in Green Bay.
Labeled as a ‘box safety’ by some pundits unsure of why GB was moving on from Clinton-Dix, instead throwing money at Amos was the move made by GB, and the writing should have been on the wall as to why Amos was viewed higher.
Pro Football Focus comprises composite rankings of the safety groups, grading safeties mostly on run defense, pass rush, and coverage abilities – in March 2019, PFF’s Sam Monson posted a screenshot of the 10 best safeties over a three-year period (2016-2018 seasons), and Amos was third overall on the list, behind Earl Thomas (SEA) and Harrison Smith (MIN), who are both very good safeties in their own rights across their careers.
But Amos, his 90.6 overall defensive grade was built up by high rankings in all three categories – 89.7 run-defense grade (2nd-best), 62.8 pass-rush grade (7th-best), and 92.2 coverage grade (4th-best). With all of these metrics being as high as they are, the notion that Amos is a box safety (before he came over to GB, at least) was a pretty far reach.
Amos was the third-best safety overall in 2017 and the eighth-best in 2018 (PFF), so the talk of him being a more one-dimensional player that will be limited to in-box coverage and play abilities was very near-sighted and not a correct notion in the least.
In the ‘18 season, Amos was lined up around 60 percent of the time as a free safety, pointed out by Zach Kruse, and putting Amos and second-year safety Darnell Savage Jr. as the two safeties in Mike Pettine’s scheme, Amos is able to showcase his skills wherever needed, whether that be down in the box or back as the final line of defense. While his turnover-forcing abilities, specifically interceptions, is not what makes Amos his money, his ability to be in the right spots at the right times is exactly what has made him such a valuable asset only one year into his current deal.
While the Bears, especially their fan base, are so quick to dismiss any moves that the Packers do, solely based on their clouded interpretations of players, Amos was easily the best addition of the two safeties that swapped roles in the NFC North last offseason. Amos’ abilities to be interchangeable in the defensive backfield, all while being able to play up in the box, cause havoc and make Bears fans remember what kind of a player he truly could be (see Week 1 walk-off interception), and the Packers are likely to have him on their roster for three more seasons, minimally, solidifying their safety group and pairing them with a budding core of cornerbacks.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23