The other significant loss the Packers had this offseason was Blake Martinez. Martinez gave the Packers steady play and production over the last three seasons but was far from a difference-maker.
Martinez was assignment-sure but lacked speed and was not a playmaker in the passing game.
The team drafted Oren Burks with that role in mind. Burks is big and fast and has the ability necessary to be a playmaker in Mike Pettine’s defense. But injuries have prevented Burks from being a full-time player and the team had to look elsewhere for assurances.
One of, if not the biggest signing the Packers made this offseason was Christian Kirksey. When healthy, Kirksey is just what the Packers need in the middle of their defense. He’s a playmaker, has speed, and makes the tackle.
Kirksey cannot do it alone. There is also an opening next to Kirksey in the base and nickel defense. The Packers used a mix of B.J. Goodson and safeties to fill that role last season. As previously stated, Burks has the toolset to fill that role and help the Packers in run defense that was lacking last year when.
The Packers also added Kamal Martin in the fifth round of this year’s draft. While rookies will face a steep climb this year, if Martin can stay healthy and show the athletic ability he did back at the University of Minnesota, the Packers will have a difficult yet good decision to make.
The Packers also have two darkhorse candidates in Ty Summers and 2019 undrafted free agent Curtis Bolton.
Bolton was having a great camp in 2019 before a knee injury forced him to injured reserve. Summers spent all of the 2019 season on the roster but didn’t see any time other than on special teams.
Much like Josh Jackson, Oren Burks faces a pivotal camp and could be on the outside looking in if Martin and Kirksey shine.