Green Bay Packers: De’Vondre Campbell Catches Eyes of Matt LaFleur

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (59) is shown during the first day of training camp Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.MJS-Devondre Campbell
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (59) is shown during the first day of training camp Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.MJS-Devondre Campbell /

In an article that I wrote about a month ago now, I posed the question, how good can this Green Bay Packers linebacker unit be?

In short, while in no way are my expectations that this will be one of the better linebacker units in the NFL this season, I do believe that they can be much improved over what they have been in the past.

There is a lot to like about Krys Barnes’ game, and the reliability that he brings. Kamal Martin is loaded with upside, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I was a huge fan of the De’Vondre Campbell addition–and from the sounds of it, Matt LaFleur has been as well.

Campbell was signed early on in the summer to a one-year deal worth $2 million with just over $1 million of it guaranteed. This will be Campbell’s sixth NFL season after spending the first four in Atlanta and then the 2020 campaign in Arizona.

While there really aren’t any parts of Campbell’s game that are flashy, he brings a well-rounded skill-set to this linebacker room. He’s a three-down linebacker who can pick up running backs and tight ends in coverage with his long and athletic 6’4″ – 232-pound frame.

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"“We have a lot of really good tight ends in this league, so personally I feel like it’s just a skill-set thing,” Campbell said Wednesday via Packers News. “The league is changing as a whole. You have a lot of these tight ends that are like basically extra wide receivers on the field.“So, just being able to kind of match up with them (tight ends), I feel like I bring the size and speed that allows me to be able to match up rather than putting a safety on them. Sometimes, even if you have a really good coverage safety, most tight ends can overpower them due to size.”"

Campbell is a reliable tackler and someone who can hold his own against the run, and he’s also been effective as a blitzer over his career as well. But perhaps most importantly, he’s been available.

Over the last four seasons, Campbell has appeared in all 48 games–obviously an important trait, especially when both Barnes and Martin missed time during thier rookie seasons.

So far, through training camp, Campbell, along with Barnes, has been the starting linebacker with the defensive unit. With being a late addition to this team, as Campbell told reporters recently, he is still learning the defense, what his full responsibilites are, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates around him.

However, even with the learning curve that comes from joining a new team and learning a new defensive system, Campbell has stood out, with Matt LaFleur even calling him “lights out.”

"“De’Vondre has been lights out. He’s done a great job,” coach Matt LaFleur said via Packers Wire. “I think he’s done a really nice job of picking up what we’re asking him to do at a quick rate.”"

With his size, athleticism, experience, and well-rounded skill-set, Campbell brings an element to this Green Bay Packers’ defense that they haven’t really had in recent years. Again, there isn’t anything too flashy about his game, but there is something to be said for being steady in all three defensive phases and the reliability that he brings.

Couple all of that with this Joe Barry defense that does a very good job of keeping the linebackers clean with the alignment of the defensive front, thus allowing the linebackers to make plays, and we could see an even more impactful version of Campbell this season than what we have in the past.

Given how the linebacker position has performed here in Green Bay in recent years, I can understand why some might be skeptical, and ultimately, it’s going to come down to how Campbell and the rest of the unit plays during the regular season. But the early returns suggest that there is a lot to like about this addition and what Campbell can add to the defensive side of the ball.

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"“You can see the instincts that he has, and he’s very, very fluid,” LaFleur said via Packers Wire. “There’s been a couple of instances in practice in terms of his ability, whether it’s been as a blitzer or in coverage, he’s a very, very good athlete.“I think he’s a really good football player and I think he’s really going to help our defense.”"