Green Bay Packers add defensive versatility


With the 2015 NFL draft officially in the books, it’s time to reflect.

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The Green Bay Packers had many needs entering the draft, mostly on the defensive side of the ball.  In the weeks leading up to the draft, the debate was what Green Bay’s most pressing need was.  Was it the void left by A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones at inside linebacker or the one left by Davon House and Tramon Williams at cornerback?

It seemed that every corner or linebacker projected to go in a 30-pick span was picked by someone to land in Green Bay come Thursday’s first round.  Yet with Green Bay’s 30th pick being so wide open, Ted Thompson and the front office managed to surprise Packer fans with their first-round pick.

Green Bay took Arizona State safety Damarious Randall with the 30th overall pick.

While many (including myself) were initially shocked to see Thompson pick another safety, once word got out about Randall’s versatility and cover skills, worry dissipated and the motto “In Ted we trust” emerged once again.

It’s been said that Randall was the top cover safety of the draft, and played almost as much nickel corner as he did safety.  Combine this little tidbit with Green Bay’s second-round pick Quinten Rollins, cornerback from Miami (Ohio), and you can see what the front office wanted to address.

Thompson used his first two picks to add secondary depth, and made sure they complemented themselves well in the process.  The combination of Randall’s cover skill and versatility with Rollins’ play-making ability and ball skills adds depth to the secondary; something Green Bay desperately needed once House and Williams left.

With questions surrounding Casey Hayward‘s ability to hold his own moving from slot to outside corner, adding depth not only address a need as a whole, but relieves some pressure from Hayward himself.

Now with two DBs being taken with Green Bay’s first two picks, and then a wide receiver in the third round, a need many fans thought should be the Packers’ top priority had yet to be addressed.  The position of inside linebacker was one that was talked about a lot, and with the Packers not addressing this position until the fourth round, speculation began.

One theory for the lack of urgency from the front office is that the Packers have faith in what they have at ILB.  But an easy way to squash that theory is to just look at the depth chart.

If Green Bay wants to keep high expectations of returning to the Super Bowl, then it’s hard to say they can get there with players like Sam Barrington, Carl Bradford, and Andy Mulumba starting at ILB.

A more believable theory is that Green Bay plans on keeping linebacker Clay Matthews on the inside for at least a little while longer.  Two tweets from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky shines some light on what Clay will be doing according to head coach Mike McCarthy.

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  • With McCarthy himself saying Clay will attend both ILB and OLB meetings along with the noticeable increase of productivity after the move, it’s safe to assume that Clay will at least be in contention to start at ILB come Week 1.

    Now while Green Bay still has some concerns on the defensive side of the ball, fans can now look at this defense and can be optimistic about one thing; it has options.  It’s been a while since a fan could look at a Dom Capers defense and genuinely be intrigued about where they’re headed.

    With a more versatile secondary and options in the linebacking corps, Green Bay has positioned itself to, at the very least, not be handcuffed by personnel.  Whether these coaches can use the new versatility and implement working schemes come the regular season is a whole different discussion.

    But for now, it seems the 2015 draft was another typical Ted Thompson draft.  Green Bay got value picks, addressed needs by more than just picking certain positions, and had some fans wondering what the heck they were doing.  Would you expect anything less from a Ted Thompson draft at this point?

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