The Green Bay Packers announced that they signed safety turned linebacker Christian Young to their practice squad on Tuesday.
After signing linebacker Kristian Welch to the 53-man roster prior to their matchup with Detroit last Thursday, the Packers had an opening on the practice squad. Young was one of five players who was in for a workout on Monday.
Young went undrafted this past spring and spent the summer with Seattle. He measures in at 6’1″ – 220 pounds and posted a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) as a safety of just 3.21, although he did run a 4.6-second 40, which grades out very well on the RAS scale for a linebacker. Heading into the 2022 season, Young made his way onto Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks” list with his impressive athleticism for his size.
Young played five college seasons with Arizona, where the Wildcats used him all over the field. With over 2,200 career snaps, Young played 824 from the box, 648 as a free safety, 382 from the slot, and even 155 on the boundary.
During the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Young forced 12 pressures as a safety and made 142 of his 168 tackle attempts, along with 41 stops, according to PFF. In coverage, he allowed 39 completions on 59 targets during that span at only 11.6 yards per catch with five pass breakups. Young also played 413 special teams snaps during his college career as well.
For more on Young’s game, here is what NFL.com’s Lance Zierelein wrote about him in his pre-draft report:
"“Height-weight-speed prospect lacking the football awareness and overall technique needed to step onto an NFL field at this time. Young has the frame to play as a box safety or potentially move to a Will linebacker role, but he must improve his tackling. He has special teams potential, so that could work for him if he gets into a camp.”"
On the Packers’ practice squad, Young gives them an inside linebacker option in practice–something they did not have with Welch moving to the 53-man. With the depth that the Packers have at the linebacker position on the active roster, Young is likely to remain on the practice squad this season, barring any injuries.
Versatility can certainly be a good thing – the more you can do, as they say – but as is the case for any young player, it’s going to be important that Young carve out a specific role in some capacity first, especially since he’s adjusting to a new position. While versatility is good to have, young players also have to be proficient in at least one area before more responsibilities can be added to their plate and that positional flexibility can be maximized.
Like many undrafted rookies, special teams play is going to be what helps Young stick around.