Continuing our look at the expectations of second and third year guys. Earlier we looked at Randall Cobb. This next installment sticks with a true NFL sophomore from last year's draft class: Davon House.
The last two drafts have each been a bit lopsided in their own way. Last year wasn't quite as dramatic in how it unfolded as this year, but it was offense heavy, including three straight offensive picks to start the draft. House broke that trend and was the first defensive pick.
Last year he made a bit of noise in camp. Coaches have loved his physical tools. He's a big, strong corner who also has pretty good speed (running a 4.41 at the combine last year). He did come from a bit of a smaller program at New Mexico State and may have been hurt by the lack of OTA's and minicamps last year. While it may not fair to say that he is jealous of this year's class' opportunity, he has gone on the record to say they are "lucky" to be able to have that time to learn the playbook. So in a nutshell last year was lost to House, partly because of the missing offseason and partly because of an injury early in the year.
This year House has been soaking in the playbook and getting healthy. Right now the Packers are hoping to add more weapons in that secondary after a historically bad passing defense last year, so look for House to get a good long look this upcoming camp.
House's depth chart in 2011 - No. 4 CB
House's floor depth chart position in 2012 - No. 4 CB: Right now House is in battle with a third year player, Sam Shields, and a rookie, Casey Hayward. This means that if House can perform well he could overtake Shields, who is coming off a disappointing year. If he struggles in camp he may be overtaken by the intriguing rookie Hayward. Right now all three have had their moments in OTA's and minicamps and so good money is on House working in the dime and Shields holding on to his nickle responsibilities. Then again Shields could move up to the #2 spot, Charles Woodson move to safety and House take the #3....but I personally won't believe Woodson moving to safety till I see it camp or the preseason.
House's ceiling depth chart position in 2012 - No. 3 CB. Like I said above, it is completely plausible that House overtakes Shields this year. The main reason behind this will probably revolve around tackling ability. House is bigger and stronger than Shields which suggests that he should be a better tackler. Shields was also pretty bad at tackling last y ear. If House can be solid in coverage and an average to above average tackler, then his field time should increase and may even push Shields to a more diminished role.
House's stats in 2011: 1 tackle 0 sacks 0 interceptions.
House's floor stats in 2012 (assuming he's healthy) - 30 tackles 1 sack 2 interceptions. As a dimeback (and special teams player) he should be able to get a fair number of tackles. He should also have a chance or two at some picks. Finally with his size and speed he may even be able to get some corner blitzes Charles Woodson style and sneak a sack or two.l
House's ceiling stats in 2012 - 55 tackles 3 sacks 6 interceptions. For House to hit his ceiling stat projection he needs to be in one of the starting (or starting like) roles. This means he is in either the #2 or 3 position on the depth chart. It is ambition to think of him getting 6 picks, but with how aggressive our defense can be it's also not far fetched.
Projected stats for House in 2012 - 35 tackles 1 sack 3 interceptions. I know, this looks pretty close to his floor. The main reason why I have to project here is because of three things: 1) my hope Shields is more like his 2010 year than his 2011 year, 2) my expectation that Woodson remains more at corner than safety, 3) my hope that this position isn't snake bit with injuries. All of that pushes House to a more dime role and spelling guys not limits his consistent minutes. Despite this I would expect some good plays out of him and solid tackling on defense and special teams....which is exactly what this team needed last year and despairingly needs this year.