Last year, the pass defense was a sore spot for the Packers. Yes, that’s an understatement.
This year, the defensive backfield is stocked up, either to generate competition, protect against another unreal rash of injuries, or both.
At cornerback, the Packers will return their 2015 1st and 2nd rounders in Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, as well as former UDFA and year-end CB1, lanky Ladarius Gunter.
That’s the three starters they ended the year with, but they also bring back conversion project Herb Waters and former conversion project Demetri Goodson. Reserve Josh Hawkins, who appeared in 11 games last year, is also in the mix.
Just before the draft, the Packers signed former Packer Davon House and then followed that up by using their first draft pick on cornerback Kevin King.
That’s eight guys who seem to have a claim to a roster spot, not including the four UDFAs they brought in.
Also, they waived Makinton Dorleant, but it was with an injury designation, meaning they could bring him back – they liked him enough to hold him on IR twice last year and burn their one return designation on him even though there seemed to be much bigger needs.
That’s a potential baker’s dozen at CB.
At safety, things aren’t as crowded, but there’s certainly an abundance.
First off are Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, one of the top safety tandems in the league. HHCD made his first Pro Bowl last year and was featured o the NFL’s top 100 players list. Burnett had a good season of his own and displayed the versatility to play on the box and the slot in addition to both safety positions.
Then, S3 is Kentrell Brice, who came on very strong towards the end of his rookie campaign and showed flashes of great speed, good instincts, and the ability to lay the lumber in a way that a 5’11” guy shouldn’t be able to. His rise from UDFA to solid rotational contributor was a big reason Burnett was able to move around so much.
Reserves Marwin Evans and Jermaine Whitehead are also back. Joining them in the fray is the Packers second second-round pick, Josh Jones and UDFA Aaron Taylor.
That’s almost 20 total DBs that are going to be battling it out for roster spots. Who knows how many they’ll keep?
The starting safeties are set, but after that, pretty much every spot is up for grabs. The competition should be great.
Hopefully the results are better than last year.