Could Calvin Pryor be the Packers’ Answer at Safety?


Louisville safety Calvin Pryor (25). David Manning-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The pre-draft process is in full swing for the 2014 year and mock drafts are being published left and right on the internet.

It’s clear to any who followed the Green Bay Packers‘ injury-laden 2013 season that the team desperately needs more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

No position was more guilty of falling short in this department than safety this past season. Green Bay’s safeties accounted for a total of zero interceptions in 2013. That’s right. They went 17 games without robbing the quarterback. This hasn’t happened in Green Bay in nearly half a century.

On top of this, the safety position was also bitten with the horrid missing-tackle bug. A disease that plagued the defense in 2011 and reared it’s ugly head just two years later.

According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers starting safeties tallied 25 missed tackles in 2013. Morgan Burnett led the team with 17, and M.D. Jennings‘ eight weren’t much better. Burnett and Jennings were also responsible for giving up nine passing plays of 20 yards or more and eight touchdowns through the air.

A quick look at these numbers will tell you why most believe safety is one of the top needs for the Packers going into the draft.

In Erik Lambert of NFL Mocks latest projections for the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, he has Louisville’s Calvin Pryor pegged for the Packers with the 21st pick.

"Safety was once a powerhouse position for the Green Bay Packers but it seems to have fallen on hard times of late.  They graded out poorly in 2013 and could use a makeover.  Calvin Pryor is a 6’2″ monstrosity who brings an edge to the secondary.  He loves to play physical, deals some fierce hits and has improved in coverage."

Since recently deciding to forgo his senior season and declare for the draft, Pryor is a safety prospect that has climbed up draft boards in rapid fashion.

He is even challenging Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the top safety spot in many expert rankings. Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout believes Pryor will be the better player in the NFL because of his combination of size, speed, and playmaking ability.

Even if Pryor comes in a close second to Clinton-Dix on many draft boards, his addition to the draft class gives the Packers options in the first round if Clinton-Dix is off the board by the time Green Bay drafts 21st overall.

Pryor’s game might not be as polished as Clinton-Dix, but he does play more physical than the Alabama prospect. Pryor brings big-hit ability and sure-tackling to the position. As a junior, he averaged 7.1 tackles per game and never shied away from contact.

Pryor also recorded seven interceptions and 13 pass breakups in his three years at Louisville, demonstrating his ability to make plays in coverage.

Pryor is a versatile safety that would be a great addition to the Packers defense. For fans that feel Clinton-Dix is the only early round safety option for the Packers in the draft, just remember that players like Pryor, Deone Bucannon, and Ahmad Dixon could still be available for Green Bay in the first few rounds if the Alabama prospect is taken early in the draft.

Green Bay may also be able to find value at the position in the mid-to-late rounds with players like Hakeem Smith of Louisville or Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward.