Joe Whitt Jr, the Packers cornerbacks coach, might be the best coach on the team.
Earlier, we wrote about how James Campen has done a good job developing 4th rounders, but Joe Whitt has turned a couple UDFAs into Pro Bowlers. The work he did with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields is nothing short of spectacular. Williams was an unknown from a small school (with two years of spot duty play when Whitt arrived) and Shields was a wide receiver who couldn’t catch and was moved to cornerback his senior year in college. Both turned into Pro Bowlers, both cashed in on big deals, and both were integral to the 2010 Super Bowl run.
In addition to those two gems, he also developed Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, and Davon House, all of whom went on to big free agent deals as a result of their success.
But it’s not just what he’s done for the young guys. He had an uphill battle to earn the trust of veteran leaders like Charles Woodson and Al Harris. They both liked Lionel Washington, the former cornerbacks coach, but after working with him for a short time, they, too came to respect Whitt’s work.
Maybe that’s why the Packers were so comfortable throwing undrafted free agents like Ladarius Gunter and late round basketball players like Demetri Goodson at him.
But that’s all changed lately.
In 2 of the last 3 drafts, the Packers have used their top two picks on cornerbacks (Damarious Randall, Quentin Rollins, Kevin King, and hybrid Josh Jones).
Randall and Rollins both looked good in their rookie season, but fell off last year with injuries at least partly to blame. Now he has a couple more premium picks to work with. If King and Jones can have rookie years like Randall and Rollins, the defensive backfield should look a lot better even if Randall and Rollins don’t bounce back this year.
Funny thing is, Whitt has gotten a lot more out of his undrafted guys than his premium picks so far (even though a case could be made for Casey Hayward being one of his better projects).
I hate the four letter network, but Jason Wilde is great and he had a wonderful story on Whitt last year and shared even more on the radio – definitely worth checking out.
There’s a lot that goes into who Whitt is, but he has results, too. This year, with four young premium picks joining prodigal Davon House and his personal project Ladarius Gunter, Whitt should have all the materials he needs to turn this group into a top 10 unit, with the youth to keep that ranking for a long time.
If that happens, we might just stop wasting Aaron Rodgers’s prime.