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Packers 90-Man Roster Preview: Sam Shields leads solid group of Cornerbacks

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Generally considered the strength of the defense, the cornerbacks gave the Green Bay defense the ability to play man-to-man coverage and free up the safeties and linebackers. With most of this group returning, it looks like another strong year could be ahead.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, the Green Bay Packers spent each of their first two draft picks on cornerbacks to help replace a pair of players who had departed in free agency. After those players' rookie seasons, it looks clear that they both are on track to be the next great Packers corners, as they helped bring youth, speed, and stability to the position.

The elder statesman in the room is just 28 years old, but he has six years of NFL experience under his belt and is coming off of one of his finest campaigns. Here is a look at the players who return to Green Bay for another year at the position.

Sam Shields, #37

H/W: 5'11", 184 lbs.

2015 stats: 39 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 13 passes defensed

Shields returns as the leader of a young group of cornerbacks.  Shields had another solid year and provides a solid veteran presence on the field.  Shields is the slightest cornerback on the team.  Now 28 years old, Shields is still fast and makes plays on the ball in the air.  With two rookies on the field frequently last year, teams were testing the younger players more than Shields.  Shields still lines up on the right side of the field almost exclusively.

Shields gives Randall and Rollins a chance to grow into their roles and allows them to play against second and third receivers as they continue to adapt and grow in the pro game.  He the clear leader on a group that was the strongest part of the defense last year.

Damarious Randall, No. 23

H/W: 5'11", 196 lbs.

2015 stats:58 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 14 passes defensed

Randall had a great first season and looks to cement himself as the starter this year.  Randall played in 15 games last year and started in nine.  Randall has a great vision for the ball and showed good timing in breaking up passes.  He was able to high-point passes well and stay with receivers down the field.  Randall has good size and speed and allows the Packers to go to a man-to-man with less need for help.  The emphasis on cornerbacks in the 2015 draft definitely helped as the Packers were the sixth best pass defense in the NFL.

Randall had unfortunate news in the offseason.  Jaelen Strong of the Houston Texans was cited for marijuana possession during a traffic stop.  Randall was the driver of that vehicle.  Randall was released from the scene, but it is something Packers coaches likely addressed immediately with the young cornerback.

Quinten Rollins, No. 24

H/W: 5'11", 195 lbs.

2015 stats: 31 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 1 sack, 6 passes defensed

Rollins made big strides getting on the field and producing throughout the year.  Rollins will have to step in more with the departure of Casey Hayward.  Rollins will likely take the slot receiver in the way that Hayward did so well last year.  Rollins quickness and basketball background should help him fill this role.

Rollins only started in four games last year and saw action in 14 games, but he showed an ability to find the ball and make plays.  Rollins is a physical player.  Rollins' presence on the roster allowed the Packers to not over-spend in trying to keep Hayward this offseason.  Moving to year two, Rollins has to show improvement.  If he does, this could be a very special defensive backfield.

LaDarius Gunter, No. 36

H/W: 6'2", 201 lbs.

2015 stats: 2 tackles

Gunter made some noise last year in preseason spots, but did not see much playing time during the season.  Gunter, like Shields, was an undrafted free agent rookie out of Miami.  He is the tallest cornerback returning and has the ability to play with physical wide receivers.  As many teams attempt to copy the Seahawks model of big, physical defensive backs, Gunter has big upside.

Gunter is likely to return, but it is important that he show some improvement.  He will not push Rollins and Randall for starting minutes, but he should see the field more.  Capers might attempt to find ways to use Gunter to create mismatches on the outside or in the deep part of the field.  Either way, he is still mostly potential.

Demetri Goodson, No. 39

H/W: 5'11", 197 lbs.

2015 stats: 10 tackles, 1 pass defensed

Goodson clearly got off on the wrong foot to start the offseason.  Goodson will start the 2016 campaign on suspension for violating the NFL PED policy.  Now entering his third season, Goodson has not made much of an impression on fans as he has not been able to see the field much.  Another basketball player turned cornerback, Goodson has the athleticism and the speed to be competitive on this roster.

Robertson Daniel, No. 31

H/W: 6'1", 205 lbs.

2015 stats: none

Daniel spent last season on the practice squad.  When Andrew Quarless was placed on the Injured Reserve last January, Daniel made the transition to the active roster.  Daniel did not see any playing time, but he is a big player with 4.4 speed.  The Packers did not add any corners through the draft so experience and familiarity with the Packers system might push Daniel ahead of the additions this year.