On the surface, addressing the safety position probably doesn’t seem like a high priority for the Green Bay Packers, considering that they have Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos—the best safety duo in football over the second half of last season.
Yet, there are a number of unknowns at the safety position after those two. Will Redmond is back but not necessarily a reliable defender. While we don’t know if Vernon Scott and Henry Black are ready for an increased role, and there is some risk relying heavily on a former seventh-round pick and a UDFA.
Enter Oregon’s Jevon Holland, who may be listed as a safety, but will add versatility to this Green Bay Packers’ defense. In fact, depending on where you look, you may see Holland listed as a cornerback with his ample experience in the slot.
Holland opted out of the 2020 season, but in 2018 he took 280 snaps at free safety, 213 in the slot, and another 121 in the box, according to PFF ($). In 2019, Holland was the Ducks’ primary slot corner with almost 600 snaps there and 179 as a box defender.
In the slot this past season, Holland was targeted 69 times and allowed a completion rate of 63.8 percent at only 10.7 yards per catch. He also logged four interceptions, five pass breakups, and a passer rating of 69.2 when targeted.
By PFF’s grading system, which certainly isn’t everything but can help illustrate who is playing really well — or poorly — Holland finished top-15 each season—2018 that was among safeties and in 2019 among cornerbacks.
At his Pro-Day recently, Holland posted a Relative Athletic Score of 9.47, and one Brian Gutekunst was in attendance as well. As Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline put it, Holland was Gutey’s “target” during the visit.
Now for a closer look at Holland’s game, here is what PFF had to say about him in their pre-draft scouting report:
“Holland was Oregon’s starting safety as a true freshman in 2018 before manning the slot for the Ducks in 2019. He’s graded exceptionally well at both, as he’s been tremendously assignment sound. The biggest question mark with him will be his athleticism.
He doesn’t have anyone special trait to hang his hat on. That’s no death knell by any means but likely keeps him out of the early-round conversation. It didn’t stop him from picking off nine passes and breaking up 11 more in his two seasons of play. That type of slot/safety versatility is perfect for today’s NFL.“
The Draft Network has Holland listed as the second-best safety in this class and the 44th ranked player overall. Meanwhile, PFF has Holland listed as the 52nd player in this class but he is a cornerback on their big board and the sixth-best one in what is a very deep class at that position.
Based on big boards and mock drafts that have been compiled, the NFL Mock Draft Database projects Holland as a second-round selection.
Holland is someone who would provide some added competition in the slot with Chandon Sullivan — which I believe would be his primary responsibility — but he also has that positional flexibility to play free safety and in the box as needed. Two big reasons that he is on Gutekunst’s and the Green Bay Packers’ radar—which means he should be on yours as well.