Packers: Cornerback is once again a need this offseason
The Green Bay Packers should look to add more talent at cornerback this offseason.
In the past four drafts, the Green Bay Packers have spent five picks in the first two rounds on cornerback—Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in 2015, Kevin King in 2017, and Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in 2018. That’s significantly more draft capital than they’ve spent at any other position during that timeframe.
Those investments have helped turn the position into not-a-disaster. But still, as the 2020 offseason kicks into high gear, cornerback is once again a need.
Of those five picks, only Alexander has materialized into the player the Packers hoped when they drafted him. He’s fast, instinctive, aggressive, has natural ball skills, and perhaps most importantly, can change directions rapidly and flip his hips with ease.
Those last two traits have been some of the main reasons that the other four corners haven’t lived up to expectations.
Randall was athletic and had excellent ball skills, but he never really had the quick-twitch athleticism necessary to be sticky in man-to-man coverage. He’s seemed to be a better fit at free safety for the Cleveland Browns, where Brian Gutekunst traded him (likely for off-field reasons, at least partially).
Rollins was a subpar athlete for the position when drafted, and things got worse after tearing his Achilles in 2017. He was released with an injury settlement at the beginning of the 2018 season.
King just put together his best season as a professional, including five interceptions. He still is slow to change direction, though, and is too vulnerable to in-breaking routes and double moves. As of now, there’s a decent chance that 2020 is his last season as a Packer.
And Jackson has been a fairly major disappointment so far. He was far surpassed in snaps in 2019 by Chandon Sullivan, Will Redmond and Ibraheim Campbell. He’s continued to be grabby with his hands at the top of routes, perhaps because he doesn’t trust his feet to keep him in position.
So right now, the Packers have exactly one proven young corner. Tramon Williams has surpassed all expectations in his return tour on the Packers, but he’ll turn 37 in a matter of weeks—an eternity for corner. It would be shocking if he played more than one additional season for the team. And King, as we mentioned, could be in his final season in green and gold as well.
There are more urgent needs this year. The cupboard has grown sparse at wide receiver and inside linebacker, for example, partly because the Packers have drafted so many defensive backs and edge players in the early rounds recently.
But Gutekunst would still be wise to acquire at least one and possibly two corners this offseason, perhaps with one of those investments being as significant as a Day 2 pick in the draft. Things change quickly in this league, and a proactive approach is required to prevent this position from once again becoming a dire need.
Keep an eye on the cornerbacks this week at the NFL Combine, and in particular, the drills measuring burst and agility (40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle, and position drills).