Green Bay Packers: Linebackers Best and Worst Case Scenarios

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Oren Burks #42 of the Green Bay Packers played the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Oren Burks #42 of the Green Bay Packers played the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers
Christian Kirksey, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers’ signee (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Experienced Players

Christian Kirksey comes to Green Bay after six years in Cleveland, and Oren Burks is in a make or break season after barely seeing the field in his first two seasons with the Packers.

Oren Burks

As a converted safety, Burks was supposed to come in and help out as a better coverage linebacker than most. The Green Bay Packers even traded up to get Burks in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been the guy they hoped he would be so far.

In his second season, he actually saw his defensive snaps about cut in half from 122 to 57 for the year, from about 12 percent to 6 percent. This was slightly due to the fact he didn’t play in the first four games of the season due to a pectoral injury, but it would have been somewhat of a cut regardless.

Now in his third season, Burks’ time as a young guy with potential is over, and he has to show it on the field. If he would practice well, the Packers would love to use him. The first priority of Mike Pettine’s defense is stopping the pass, so having a guy like Burks that is billed as primarily a coverage linebacker would be a huge help.

Clearly, he hasn’t done enough, though, because that spot has been filled with safeties in the box like Raven Greene and Ibraheim Campbell the last two years. It could be a big season for Burks, but he’s running out of time.

Best Case Stats: 45 total tackles, 5 TFLs, 3 INTs, 6 PDs

Worst Case Stats: 20 total tackles, 1 TFL, 0 INTs, 2 PDs

Christian Kirksey

Kirksey comes to the Green Bay Packers on a reasonably cheap deal, with an average salary of $6.5 million over two years. He’s relatively inexpensive because of his recent injuries. After playing in every game for the first four years of his career, he played in just nine in the last two seasons combined.

He is essentially the replacement to Martinez as the one true linebacker in the middle of the Packers’ defense in most of their personnel packages. He doesn’t boast the big tackle numbers that Martinez has the past few years, but he’s been playing next to Joe Schobert, another one of the league’s leading tacklers, for the last few seasons.

His tackles will probably see a bump simply because of the system he’s in and his role as the sole inside linebacker. However, what he does better than Martinez is play in space. Kirksey has the ability to cover running backs and go sideline to sideline on outside run plays. Last season, the Packers got burned on outside runs, simply because of Martinez’s lack of speed. That should be somewhat remedied this season with Kirskey in his spot.

This is, of course, all assuming Kirskey stays healthy and has the same speed and explosiveness he did before his injuries. His injury last year was to the chest, so that shouldn’t affect his play speed, but in 2018 he missed time because of his ankle and a hamstring. If he stays healthy and can cover well, he could be the missing piece for this defense. He will be the team’s starting linebacker pretty much no matter what if he stays healthy, so his worst-case stats are still solid.

Best Case Stats: 95 total tackles, 12 TFLs, 2 INTs, 7 PDs

Worst Case Stats: 65 total tackles, 4 TFLs, 0 INTs, 3 PDs

Next. Bringing Back Aaron Jones is a "Priority". dark

Who do you think will take the big step to become the Green Bay Packers’ number two linebacker? Let me know in the comments below or @DairylandXpress. Next up in the series will be safeties. Past best and worst-case articles are below if you missed them.


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends and Fullbacks

Offensive Line

Defensive Line