When it comes to outside linebacker, the Green Bay Packers have an All-Pro and a talented second-year man with lots of potential; however, they have little else behind them. At inside linebacker there are lots of bodies, but none that really seem to excel as impact players. This is the case across much of the roster, as you need to either pick from solid depth with little top-end talent or Pro Bowlers with little to back them up. The cornerback position is finally one where the two qualities meet up.
Players Under Contract for 2013:
This is a very talented, deep group, and despite Williams' struggles towards the end of the season he still is the leader at the position now that Charles Woodson has shifted full-time to safety. Williams did a very admirable job against big, physical receivers like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall this year, though he seemed to struggle in run support and against some smaller, quicker wideouts. He'll be back in 2013 with a substantial raise, as more money shifts from his prorated signing bonus into his base salary. My concern with Williams is that if the younger players continue to improve or surpass him, he could be a cap casualty next off-season.
Hayward was in the running for defensive rookie of the year (and of course, I think he got screwed), and he made an instant impact when he was inserted in the slot early in the year. His play didn't suffer when on the outside in the base defense though, and he earned top grades from Pro Football Focus for his play all season long. Hayward looks to be an impact player and a great cover corner for years to come, and was a terrific find by Ted Thompson.
Davon House also looks improved, as the big corner played on the outside frequently when injuries struck at the position. His shoulder injury hampered him early on in 2012, but he showed more than enough to make Packers fans excited for him in 2013.
Bush remains a special-teams key, as the experiment with him starting at cornerback failed miserably and was ended after only one game. Nixon spent the year on the practice squad, and may be back there again next season.
Position Grade: A-
This grade is only short of a full A because Sam Shields is technically a restricted free agent this off-season; however, there's virtually no way that he'll be leaving Green Bay, as he was also critical to the unit's play. Even without Shields, the young corners played very well, and provide a lot of hope for the Packers' defense if the other positions can be improved.
Need Grade: 5 (out of 10)
Corner is one of those positions where you can never have enough talented players, especially in today's NFL with spread offenses becoming more and more prevalent. The only reason it's a 5 is that re-signing Shields will need to be a priority, and I could see the value in taking a corner late in the draft as a depth prospect. Otherwise, this position is as deep and as settled as any on the team at this point.