It's not exactly the position any Packers fan wants to hear, but it's a necessary one to address early in the 2024 draft.
With Darnell Savage essentially becoming the newest version of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - another recent Packers first-round safety who started strong but fell off drastically by the end of his rookie contract - it's unlikely he receives an extension.
After posting eight interceptions and 26 passes defended over his first three seasons, Savage looked like he could be a player offered a rich extension. But the longer he has been in Joe Barry's scheme, the more lackluster his play has been. This season, he is surrendering a career-high 75% completion percentage and a 100.8 passer rating, his third straight season allowing over 100.
Also, like Clinton-Dix, Savage's tackling has become a problem.
Add in injuries that have held Savage out of seven games in a make-or-break season; there are far too many inconsistencies for Green Bay to feel confident in shelling out big money.
Ideally, Savage gets a one-year prove-it deal under a likely new defensive coordinator and a shot at revitalizing what once looked like a promising career. Regardless, a top talent should be added in the draft to, at the very least, provide competition in a unit of the defense that has struggled to get right since losing All-Pro safety Nick Collins to injury in 2011.
Jonathan Owens (age 28) and Rudy Ford (age 29) are not long-term options, and neither fit Green Bay's "youth movement." Seventh-round rookie Anthony Johnson Jr. has shown promise in stints throughout the season and could be a long-term option next to Savage or whoever replaces him.
Despite Ford's impressive season, it's only his first year as a full-time starter. Meanwhile, Owens has been nothing short of unacceptable in pass coverage. If Savage is not brought back, that will leave the Packers with little depth and a world of uncertainty at safety entering 2024.
Thankfully, the upcoming rookie safety class is strong and features a few players with first-round grades.
Ideal Pick: Javon Bullard
Green Bay loves taking Georgia Bulldogs in the first round (Eric Stokes, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt), and adding current Bulldog safety Javon Bullard would be a home run.
A player who steps up in the spotlight, winning MVP of the 2022 College Football Playoff Semifinal and Championship game, Bullard was also awarded second-team All-SEC this season.
He brings a high football IQ, outstanding ball skills, and elite athleticism that will exceed Green Bay's high expectations for athletic measurables. Even more impressive is his coverage ability. According to independent data analyst Brent Rollins for UGAsports.com, Bullard registered an outstanding 90.3 coverage grade and a 65.5 passer rating over his three years at Georgia. This season, he's only allowed a 36.6 passer rating when targeted.
Bullard is widely considered the top safety in this year's class and will cost a first-round pick to acquire. Green Bay desperately needs to get right at safety, and using their first pick on Bullard will go a long way toward solving that. With experience also playing cornerback for Georgia, his strong tackling and coverage abilities in both man and zone will be an asset to whoever is coaching Green Bay's defense next season.