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Position Review: Secondary

This is a troublesome area. There is a lot of good in the secondary, but the top two cornerbacks are on the decline and overall they could be better. Also, the coaches have a tough choice deciding which two safeties should be starting in 2008.

CB Al Harris
He made the Pro Bowl last season, but it was a down year for him and at age 33, he's not likely to get better. Still he's started 80 straight games for the Packers and has played outstanding for most of them. He'll continuing to start on the weak side until further notice.

CB Charles Woodson
He's probably been the better than Harris over the last two seasons, but the injuries he suffered in Detroit and St. Louis late last season really took away his effectiveness at the end. At age 31, he's not likely to get better either. Injuries were a problem for him in Oakland and he was hurting or playing through an injury all of 2007. Still it was a solid season, but the Packers don't use him like a true starting cornerback. While Harris usually remains on the weakside (left side of the offense) covering the wide receiver, Woodson starts out on the strongside wide receiver but moves into cover the slot receiver in the nickel package. It's been an effective use of his talents, but he ends up covering a lot of backup receivers in the slot while the nickel back has to take on a starter wide right.

CB Jarrett Bush
2007 was a quiet season for Bush. In the nickel package, he usually came in and covered the wide receiver to the strong side. That means he usually guarded a starting receiver and had to protect the deep sideline. The Packers don't blitz much so he usually had deep safety help if needed. He was beaten deep at times, but it didn't happen often. Teams seemed to challenge Harris more than Bush. He doesn't have a lot of interceptions or big plays to show for it, but he might quietly have become the team's best cornerback or he might have been the beneficiary of coverage schemes designed to help him while isolating the veteran Harris. He'll have to come back in 2008 and have a strong season to prove his worth.

CB Tramon Williams
He was beaten on occasion last preseason and surprisingly won one of the last spots on the roster. He didn't play much early in the season, but got a chance to play on special teams and returned a kick for a TD. In week 17, the Packers rested the starters and as the starting strong side cornerback he had two pass defenses and an interception. At age 24, entering his third season, he might have the highest ceiling of the backs currently on the roster.

CB Will Blackmon
I'm dirt because I originally forgot to include him in this review. He probably slipped my mind because he's been hurt for most of his first two NFL seasons. I shouldn't forget him because he's tall, fast, and good in coverage and on kick returns. Still he'll have to remain healthy for at least one full season before they can really count on him.

S Nick Collins
The young player from small college Bethune-Cookman struggled as a rookie starter in 2005, looked much better in 2006, and appeared ready to make a big leap forward in 2007. Unfortunately that didn't happen due to a knee injury that sidelined him for a few weeks. So far he hasn't shown great tackling ability either and took several bad angles last season. He's still got to show he deserves to start, but they shouldn't be ready to give up on him yet.

S Atari Bigby
The NFC defensive player for December really has a lot going for him. He's shown that he can be fantastic in run support and could be great on the safety blitz. And oh can he hit. Players are going to start hearing his footsteps next season as he comes flying into a play. He might not have the best speed in the NFL, but it looks like he's running as hard as he can on every play. Still he's not the greatest in coverage and seems to give a lot of cushion on nearly every pass play. It was his first season as a starter, and the first season he was given any extended playing time, so some growing pains were expected in 2007 and we'll see whether he can continue to improve in 2008.

S Aaron Rouse
How good is this guy? He was considered one of the top college safeties entering his senior season, but he struggled so bad in 2006 at Virginia Tech that he got benched part way through their season and fell into the 3rd round of the 2007 NFL draft. He didn't shine in the preseason and probably made the team in large part due to his status as a 3rd round pick. He didn't play much at first, but after Collins got hurt, he got his chance, and he took it. He's probably the best safety in coverage and at 6'4" he can afford to give up a step in coverage but can stretch to get it back. He struggled with some injuries too, but he could be very good and should be given a chance to win a starting job in 2008.

These are all solid players who deserve to be part of the team next season, but they still could add a high draft choice at cornerback in April to eventually challenge and replace Harris or Woodson. In pass protection, it is just as important to find good cover cornerbacks as it is to have an elite pass rush. The Packers might decide the best way to help their secondary is to draft an elite pass rusher, but the best prospects should be long gone by the time the Packers select late in the first round, so it's more likely that the Packers top choice overall in the draft will be a cornerback.