Green Bay Packers defense has a chance to be elite in 2019

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

The Green Bay Packers have completely revamped their defense the past couple of seasons and it could pay off in a big way in 2019.

The Green Bay Packers have invested a lot of assets into their defense over the past few years. In 2016, they spent their 27th overall pick on defensive lineman Kenny Clark. They also used a third-round and two fourth-round picks to select Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez and Dean Lowry respectively that season.

In 2017, they used their first four picks on the defensive side of the ball. They selected Kevin King (second-round), Josh Jones (second-round), Montravius Adams (third round) and Vince Biegel (fourth round). 2018 was very similar, as they selected Jaire Alexander in the first, Josh Jackson in the second and Oren Burks in the third.

Then, in 2019, the Packers used two first round picks on defense in Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage. They also spent a lot of money to bring in free agents such as Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Adrian Amos to quickly move along the rebuilding process.

Some, okay a lot, of the picks haven’t panned out for Green Bay. Guys like Jones, Adams, and Beigel have all been complete busts. The jury is still out on others such as Fackrell, King, Jackson and Burks.

All of these high draft picks and recent free agent acquisitions have given Green Bay and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine the tools to have an elite defense. The Packers have a stud in Kenny Clark who they can build their interior defensive line around. Although the other guys aren’t studs, players like Smith, Smith and Mike Daniels are good enough to win their one-on-one matchups. We’ll see what Gary can do as well.

The secondary looks to take the biggest leap of any unit. Jaire Alexander proved he can paly in his rookie season and should be even better. Hopefully, King can stay healthy and Jackson can adjust to the speed of the NFL. If those two things happen, the Packers have a legit three-man cornerback rotation.

The corners should also have the support of the safeties. Amos and Savage are clear improvements from last season and should be able to make some plays both near the line of scrimmage and in the deep passing game. That will be a true difference-maker for the Packers.

The Packers only real weakness is at middle linebacker. Blake Martinez is solid and holds down the fort at one spot. However, the other starting linebacker is incredibly important and there’s no indicator who that could be. It was thought Jones would fight for that job, but he recently requested a trade. That likely leads Burks, but he showed he was far from ready last season. Pettine will certainly be working to answer that question before the season begins.

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Pettine was able to put together an above-average defense last season even with clear flaws. It will be amazing to see him go to work with so many interchangeable pieces. Even though Green Bay doesn’t have the elite defenders who jump off the field at you, they have a bunch of fluid football players who can attack the offense. They can truly make an impact this year and jump into the top-five if everything goes right.