The Green Bay Packers added some experience to the defense in free agency, but there will be opportunities for young players to win starting jobs in 2019.
Championship teams need a blend of experience and youth. The Green Bay Packers defense has plenty of experience with Mike Daniels at defensive tackle, Tramon Williams in the secondary and new signings Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos.
But the Packers will also have young players competing for a significant share of the defensive snaps this season.
Oren Burks has an excellent opportunity to take on a bigger role at linebacker this season, especially after the Packers did very little to add to the position this offseason. They also let Jake Ryan walk in free agency.
After also letting Bashaud Breeland leave in free agency, the Packers will be relying on young players to step up at cornerback. Second-year Jaire Alexander will start, and Josh Jackson, who was selected one round after Alexander, could also be a starter this season. Rookie Ka’Dar Hollman could also be needed to step up.
Similarly, along the defensive line, the Packers decided against re-signing Muhammad Wilkerson and instead turned to the draft to select Kingsley Keke, who has the talent to become a starter in Mike Pettine’s defense in the near future.
What’s exciting about this defense is that it has leaders like Daniels and Williams, and Alexander could also be a leader in the defensive backfield this season. They also have enough experience.
But the Packers also have a number of talented young players on the roster who could all play significant snaps on defense this year. If Josh Jackson steps up in his second season, or Kingsley Keke has an impressive rookie year, or Oren Burks improves in year two, the Green Bay Packers defense could the best we’ve seen in a number of years.
This defense has a ton of potential, and we’ll get an idea of how much it has improved when training camp begins in a month.