It’ll be a season of new beginning for the safety group in Green Bay, as they said goodbye to an old friend in Morgan Burnett and hopefully, welcome back the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of 2016. To replace Burnett, the Packers turn to another highly touted prospect in Josh Jones while leaning on the hopeful growth of a couple of third-year players.
The 2016 Second-Team All-Pro struggled mightily last year but still had moments of great play. Now in a contract year, it’ll be up to him to bounce back to his All-Pro play.
- Natural playmaker with great range in coverage
- Durable, hasn’t missed a game in career.
- Locker room leader who has the respect of teammates and opponents alike.
- Underwhelmed in 2017 after a strong 2016.
- Goes for the big hit sometimes and misses tackles.
Scale (If 1 is the player has absolutely no chance of making the final 53-man roster and 10 is the player is a surefire lock, where does this player rank?)-10
Clinton-Dix is a very good safety who could be elite. He should be one of Mike Pettine’s building blocks.
Last year’s second-round pick is playing strong safety full time after being thrown into the deep end last year as a hybrid player. He’s expected to take over for Morgan Burnett this year and provide a strong, physical presence in the secondary.
- Elite athleticism to fly sideline-to-sideline.
- Effective blitzer off the edge.
- Big hitter who isn’t afraid of contact.
- Doesn’t trust his instincts enough.
- Overaggressive at times going for a big hit and misses tackles.
Gutekunst let Burnett walk because they trust Jones. He’s a key for the future at the position in Green Bay.
Special teams stud who missed some time last year with an injury. Now healthy, he’ll get the first chance to seize the third safety job and could even push Jones.
- Aggressive, physical hitter who strikes fear in receivers.
- Exceptional range to play center field in coverage.
- Special teams leader who plays on every unit.
- Overaggressive and misses tackles.
- Coming off a season-ending injury.
- Can be caught flat-footed in coverage.
Brice is a lock for the roster. Even if he doesn’t see a ton of time on defense, he’ll be one of the leaders on special teams.
Now in his third year, the Wisconsin native has really come into his own on special teams but hasn’t seen much time on defense. With Clinton-Dix the only returning stalwart, Evans has a chance to seize a role as the backup free safety.
- Above average athleticism.
- Fluid in coverage, a natural free safety.
- Special Teams extraordinaire.
- Has not gotten significant playing time in the past two seasons on defense.
- Not a natural playmaker.
Evans is in good shape to make the squad. It’d take a herculean effort by the guys below him on the depth chart to put him in serious jeopardy.
The definition of a “bubble” player, Whitehead has had a few stints on the 53-man roster with the team but hasn’t been able to carve out a significant role. He’ll need to become Jarrett Bush 2.0 to stick this time around.
- Physical tackler who drive through the ballcarrier
- Significant Special Teams experience
- Brings little to the team as a safety.
- Penalty prone.
Whitehead has a very small path to the roster and it’ll reside on special teams. But it’s unlikely that he’ll jump over Brice, Evans, or Lenzy Pipkins.
One of the better ballhawks in the nation the past couple years, Greene looks to make the big jump to Green Bay. He’s stuck behind a lot of guys who have similar skill sets, and will have to be a quick study and special teams stud to make it.
- Experienced and durable (49 Starts in college)
- Good ball skills (14 interceptions)
- Above average range.
- Small school prospect who’s making a big jump to the NFL.
- Average tackler
Greene is an intriguing prospect but with all the young talent ahead of him, he’s likely destined for the practice squad.
*Written by Mike Wendlandt