The Green Bay Packers just wrapped up the 2018 NFL Draft and came away with some game-changing defensive talent with their first three picks. After moving down and then back up in the first round to select Jaire Alexander with the 18th overall pick, it appeared the Packers had found their missing piece in the secondary. Then first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst double-dipped in the second round by selecting Iowa corner Josh Jackson. Many speculated that Jackson could be an option at pick 14 in the weeks leading up to the draft. For him to still be on the board at 45 made the decision to completely revamp the cornerback position an easy one. The Packers cornerback competition in training camp will be one to follow as the team attempts to alter their philosophy when it comes to defending the pass.
A Look at the Green Bay Packers Cornerback Competition Ahead of Training Camp
This year’s top two picks will be the foundation of the Packers defensive backfield moving forward. Both players will most likely need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL’s wide receivers though. The Packers brought Williams in on a two-year $10 million contract this off-season, a hefty price for a 35-year-old defensive back. Williams provides starting experience in new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine‘s scheme and with the Packers organization so all signs point to him starting in week one. Williams will most likely man one boundary position opposite last year’s second-round pick.
King showed promise in year one due to his rare combination of height and speed. He proved to be a much more physical tackler than during his time at Washington but struggled against quick receivers off the line of scrimmage. King’s first season was ended by a shoulder injury that the Packers hope doesn’t linger into this year. Jackson should be a compliment to King on the outside for years to come, while Alexander’s stature and physicality could make him one of the league’s premier slot corners. All three players showed impressive ball skills in college. The Packers finally have a cupboard stocked full of quality corners. It will be up to Pettine to get the most out of this young trio.
Roll of the Dice:
The main element separating these two tiers is experience. All four players listed above have started multiple games for the Packers but are not guaranteed a roster spot come September. After shipping Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns this off-season, it would be disappointing to see Gutekunst cut fellow 2015 draftee Rollins after a season lost to injury. That being said, Rollins has disappointed since showing promise as a rookie, so the Packers could move forward with young, healthier options. He should open camp in a heated competition with Alexander for the team’s starting nickel corner.
House was brought back on a one-year deal with less guaranteed money than he earned last year in Green Bay. He provides veteran leadership and was the most consistent cornerback on the team last year but really doesn’t provide much potential moving forward. House is a very average press corner that can’t defend the deep ball and should be primarily stowed for depth in case of injury this year.
Goodson has a story similar to Rollins in that he can’t stay healthy enough to stay on the field. He should have been a free agent this off-season but his rookie contract tolled due to injury. When available, Goodson has been a decent special teams gunner and filled in when necessary on the boundary. With so many athletic young players this year, the Packers should move on from the 28-year old Goodson.
Hawkins makes this tier because he started the last three games of the 2017 season and has made not only the team but the starting lineup after going undrafted in 2016. He has good speed and pursuit to the ball but struggles when relied on as a number one corner. After replenishing the position through the draft, Hawkins shouldn’t be needed to start this year. He could have a tough time even making the roster, but his upside is far greater than House or Goodson.
Pipkins and Brown saw time on the active roster last year with Pipkins making the initial 53 before the season. He started the final game of the regular season last year and recorded five tackles and a pass break-up. He could be competing with House and Hawkins for the final spot at the position. Brown and Waters have both seen some special teams work but would be serious long shots to make the roster. The depth at corner looks better than it has in the past five years. Although it’s always a nice story when an undrafted player gets called up to the active roster, it would be in the Packers best interest if some of these high picks could stay healthy and hold their spots.