Predicting what Jeff Hafley's Packers defense will look like after NFL Draft

Jeff Hafley
Jeff Hafley / Bryan M. Bennett/GettyImages

In the 2024 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers drafted 11 new members, six of whom were on the defensive side of the ball. This gives new-coming defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley some shiny new toys to work with.

Hafley's message has been sent with the selections of Edgerrin Cooper, Javon Bullard, Ty'Ron Hopper, Evan Williams, Kitan Oladapo, and Kalen King.

This defense is going to play fast and hit offenses hard.

Let's take a look at each level of the defense. See what changed, what stayed the same, and how we can infer what Hafley plans to do with each.

What can we expect from new-look Packers defense after 2024 NFL Draft?

Defensive line

  • DE/EDGE: Kingsley Enagbare, Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Lukas Van Ness
  • Interior: Karl Brooks, Kenny Clark, T.J. Slaton, Colby Wooden, Devonte Wyatt

Starting up front in the trenches, Hafley and GM Brian Gutekunst left this group relatively alone this offseason. With news of Colby Wooden bulking up to stay on the inside and Kingsley Enagbare potentially returning sooner rather than later from an ACL injury, the group starts to become fleshed out a bit more.

With a shift to a 4-3 defense, the four starters seem to be already locked up (Rashan Gary, Devonte Wyatt, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith), but every player in the room has the talent to see ample playing time next season. Lukas Van Ness and Kingsley "JJ" Enagbare will rotate as pass-rush specialists and relief players, with the former projected to challenge Preston Smith for the starting job.

Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden look to do the same inside, and T.J. Slaton seems perfect to play defensive tackle if Hafley decides to kick Kenny Clark over for a couple of plays.

Bottom line, this room remained untouched, but the amount of talent, along with the scheme change makes the front four one of the strengths of the defense.


  • Edgerrin Cooper, Ty'Ron Hopper, Isaiah McDuffie, Quay Walker, Eric Wilson, Kristian Welch

With the subtraction of De'Vondre Campbell, 23-year-old Quay Walker has been crowned the de facto leader of the linebacker room and, to an extent, the entire defense. Outside of that, this room is riddled with question marks and the dirty word "potential."

While McDuffie played well in a limited role last year, is that just a purple patch? Edgerrin Cooper and Ty'Ron Hopper project to be major players, but they're just rookies, so how reliable can they be? These are all questions that Hafley needs to answer for this unit to be successful.

That being said, this unit can fly. All four of the projected rotation players (Cooper, Hopper, McDuffie, Walker) can run sideline-to-sideline with ease, but seeing and reading the field in coverage will be an area for improvement for each of them.

With their athleticism and Hafley's willingness to get after the quarterback, expect to see a lot of this linebacker room in the backfield and sent on blitzes, but the concern comes when in passing downs and they're forced to cover the middle of the field.


  • Cornerbacks: Jaire Alexander, Corey Ballentine, Keisean Nixon, Kalen King, Eric Stokes, Carrington Valentine
  • Safeties: Javon Bullard, Anthony Johnson Jr., Xavier McKinney, Kitan Oladapo, Evan Williams

With a revamped safety room from top to bottom and a healthy cornerback room, the backend of the defense looks poised for a strong year.

Like the defensive line, competition at every single position means getting the best out of each player day in and day out. With Eric Stokes seemingly healthy, expect him and Carrington Valentine to be in a dogfight for the CB2 role opposite of All-Pro Jaire Alexander.

In the slot, Keisean Nixon looks to retain his role as starter. But with second-round draft pick Javon Bullard being a capable slot defender in his own right, he will need to step up his play from last season in order to remain the starter.

For the first time in what seems a while, Xavier McKinney feels like the safety that's been missing since the days of Nick Collins. Who plays next to him, however, is still a mystery.

Anthony Johnson Jr., the last bastion of the 2023 Packers safety room, will battle it out with a trio of rookies: Bullard, fourth-round pick Evan Williams, and fifth-rounder Kitan Oladapo. All three bring a heat-seeking-missile attitude that could place them closer to the line of scrimmage in dime and nickel packages, potentially as a sub-linebacker on third downs.

This secondary is young, with 26-year-old Keisean Nixon being the veteran of the room. Expect this group to take massive strides this year and be the enforcers of the defense. This new secondary doesn't seem to be afraid of anything with their mix of swagger and physicality, so expect Jeff Hafley to use those traits to his defense's advantage.

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