Packers added De’vondre Campbell this week to bring a veteran presence to a young inside linebacker group.
The fifth-year veteran played for the Falcons his first four seasons before playing one year for the Cardinals. Campbell has registered 92-plus tackles in each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 129 in 2019. The 28-year-old has played a lot of football at a very high level and will register an immediate impact for Green Bay’s defense.
The Packers have youngsters Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin to man the inside linebacker position but if last season was indicative of anything it is that the ILB is very unstable. At one point Christian Kirksey, Martin and Barnes all missed time due to various injuries. The depth at the position was tested last year and Packers brass are expecting it to be vital to the upcoming year as well.
Ty Summers has proven that he is more of a special teams player than a starting middle linebacker in the NFL so depth is extremely important. With all the injuries, Summers was given an opportunity early last year against the Saints but failed miserably in extended minutes — albeit Alvin Kamara will make most MLBs look inadequate.
Isaiah Mcduffie was drafted in the sixth round and could eventually replace Summers as the depth/special-teams linebacker. But neither provides a real threat to Martin or Barnes’ playing time unless there is an injury.
For those who think Campbell is just a one-down linebacker, think again. Campbell thinks he can do it all from the linebacker position. But before we get ahead of ourselves, lets remember that the same thing was said about Kirksey. The Packers were interested in Campbell before signing Kirksey last year, but the familiarity with Mike Pettine eventually gave Kirksey the upperhand. With Pettine gone and Joe Barry in, Campbell will be given a similar opportunity as Kirksey last year.
The hardest thing in football to do is to be both extremely aggressive/productive in the running game while also keeping up with pass-catching running backs and tight end. So, it isn’t a surprise that it has been so hard for the Packers to find do-it-all linebacker. Although, another reason for that is the Packers refuse to invest heavily in the position.
Green Bay’s defense will be at it’s best if Martin and Barnes are healthy, but the NFL is an unpredictable and Green Bay has chosen to hedge it’s bets by signing Campbell.——————
Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.