There are two wildly different thoughts regarding the state of the Green Bay Packers' cornerback squad. The first states that this is a major concern for the team after a down year for Sam Shields and Tramon Williams mixed with Charles Woodson continuing his battle with Father Time resulted in a historically bad season for yards allowed. The second viewpoint looks to the success the team had in 2010, the freak injury suffered by Williams and his resulting recovering, the promise of Casey Hayward and return of Davon House and boasts that it might be one of the best units in the league.
The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes. There is plenty of talent there, but some questions still remain. These players are going to be put to the test this coming year with Chicago making significant upgrades to their WR corp and Detroit unleashing the beast that is Calvin Johnson. Minnesota even made some mild upgrades to their WR corp this year as well. All this means is that all of corners have to step up their game from last year and show not only an ability to make the big play but also shot down the elite QB's in the game.
Starters - Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields
Backups - Davon House, Casey Hayward
Confidence in starters - High: Williams is closing in on being 100% healthy which is the best news this group can receive. Expect him to play much closer to the 2010 Tramon Williams rather than what he showed last year. Charles Woodson's role will be lessened but he should still be a force at nickel corner. The big questions revolve around third year man Shields. Can be show what he did as a rookie and become one of the better corners in the league or will one of the guys off the bench push for his playing minutes?
Confidence in backups - Very high: House has the size and tools to be successful. He was also making a name for himself in camp and early in the year before he went down with a knee injury. Expect a good bounce back year from him. Hayward has impressed his position coaches so far who have stated that he doesn't look like a rookie out there right now...we'll see if that continues when the pads come on and practices take on a new level of intensity.
Confidence in depth - Average: Ross is an interesting prospect, but will have a tough time making the team this year. Bush is more a special teams player than cover guy, but he can still fill in if injuries strike again. Merill and Turner have the look of camp bodies at the moment.
Final Grade - B: I really want to give a higher grade here, but there is still something to prove for most of the players in this unit. Whether it's a question of health (Williams and House) or proving they can still play at a high level (Woodson, Shields, and Hayward), it's too much to rate this group much higher than B. Some questions may linger into the year, but a solid training camp can go a long way to showing that this unit can be one of the hidden gems of the 2012 Packers.