With free agents Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion signed to fortify the defensive line, the Packers' biggest need on defense exists in their secondary. While cornerback appears strong with Sam Shields returning, the same issues that have plagued the safety position since Nick Collins' forced retirement persist.
Fortunately for Green Bay, the 2014 draft class contains an embarrassment of enticing options. The best of these, Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, could find himself selected well before the Packers are on the clock. While some hold Calvin Pryor in similarly high esteem, most teams believe a significant gap exists between Clinton-Dix and the other safeties.
Under general manager Ted Thompson, the Packers have trended towards unconventional choices at safety. The aforementioned Collins was a surprise second-round pick out Bethune-Cookman. More recently, the Thompson spent a fourth-round selection on former-Maine Black Bear Jerron McMillian. While these choices produced widely different outcomes, it demonstrates Thompson's willingness to try unusual avenues at the position. Such a route could be drafting a cornerback and transitioning him to safety.
Why would the Packers do that?
"Drafting for value" has essentially become the Packers' slogan since Thompson took the reins in 2005. While drafting a safety in the first round fits a need, it doesn't necessary represent great value if that player isn't HaHa Clinton-Dix (and even then there are concerns). Selecting a better player at cornerback and transitioning him to safety provides a higher upside than drafting a second-round talent who already plays safety. Additionally, the Packers have already shown a penchant for shifting cornerbacks to safety, most recently with Micah Hyde.
Who could Green Bay draft at 21 that can make this CB-S transition?
I couldn't have asked myself a better question. One player whose combination of skills and physical ability projects well at safety -- and someone who I've been told the Packers are indeed smitten with -- is Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller. At 6-0 and 190 lbs., Fuller has the frame to withstand the pounding that safeties endure. Better still, his workout numbers are extremely impressive. Fuller ran a 4.49 40-time (better than all but two safeties measured at the combine), 38.5" vertical, 10'8" broad jump, 4.19 shuttle, and 6.90 3-cone drill.
More importantly, Fuller possesses the ball skills required of a safety. Fuller deflected 32 passes and intercepted 10 more during his time at Virginia Tech. He also forced four fumbles and recorded an astounding 23.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. After a season in which a Packers safety failed to cause a turnover, adding Fuller could remedy many of their issues.
But won't he need time to transition to safety?
Yes he will. While Fuller already possesses strong route recognition and football instincts necessary to play the position, adjusting to the different the sight angles of the safety position is a significant change for any player. However, the Packers' plan to utilize Micah Hyde as a both a safety and slot corner accommodates any position transition Fuller undergoes. While Hyde would take most of the snaps in the base defense, Fuller could take over at safety when Hyde moves into the slot in sub packages. The Packers also wouldn't be limited to playing Fuller only at safety. As he demonstrated during his college career, Fuller is well equipped to handle the cover-2 and cover-3 concepts Dom Capers employs in his defense.
Does he have a highlight film with terrible music that I can watch?
Ask and the internet will provide.
What else do I need to know about him?
Fuller isn't the first in his family to play in the NFL. His eldest brother Vincent played seven seasons in the league, mostly with the Titans. Another brother, Corey, is a practice squad receiver for Detroit. All of the brothers attended Virginia Tech.