On Friday, we looked at some “best fits” for the Green Bay Packers’ offense in free agency. Those players were deemed to be good schematic and stylistic fits for the Packers by Pro Football Focus, and there were some intriguing names among that group.
Today we move to the defense, which features four players who PFF feels would make sense in Green Bay. Here’s a look at each of those players and how they might fit in with Mike Pettine’s defense.
DT John Jenkins
Previous team: Chicago Bears
H/W: 6’3”, 327 lbs
Experience: 5 years
The Packers are pretty well set up on the defensive line, with Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, and Dean Lowry manning the three, one, and five-technique positions, respectively. However, questions about depth remain, especially with Quinton Dial hitting free agency after his one-year contract and Montravius Adams essentially taking a redshirt year.
Jenkins is the one defensive lineman viewed by PFF as a fit for the Packers, and it probably has to do with his ability to hold down the nose tackle or one-tech spots in a rotation with Clark. A third-round pick of the Saints in 2013, Jenkins had just one season as a starter, in 2015, but he was waived in 2016 and played two games for Seattle that year. In 2017, he played on a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Bears, suiting up for eight games and starting one.
He wouldn’t compete for a starting job, but he could be a candidate to rotate in for Clark (or maybe even Lowry in a pinch) if the Packers plan to use more three- or four-man fronts.
EDGE Aaron Lynch
Previous team: San Francisco 49ers
H/W: 6’6”, 270 lbs
Experience: 4 years
The biggest name on this list is Lynch, who had a pair of solid years in his first two seasons in San Francisco’s 3-4 defense. In fact, both of those seasons he tied for the team lead in sacks with Ahmad Brooks (6 in 2014 and 6.5 in 2015). However, he dropped off significantly in 2016, playing in just seven games each of the last two seasons with a total of 2.5 sacks.
Lynch has excellent size and would be a perfect fit for the rush linebacker position in Mike Pettine’s defense. He also has good straight-line speed, reportedly running the 40-yard dash in the high 4.6s at his Pro Day. He’s also young, turning 25 in March and having entered the draft as a redshirt sophomore.
The scheme fit is certainly there for Lynch, who could be a candidate to spell Nick Perry on the edge and rush from either a two- or three-point stance.
CB Davon House
Previous team: Green Bay Packers
H/W: 6’0”, 195 lbs
Experience: 7 years
House wrapped up an injury-filled season in Green Bay having played and started in 12 games but recording just one interception and six pass defenses. In addition, he was often picked on, allowing a passer rating of 107.1 into his coverage, per PFF. That is fourth-worst among qualifying free agent cornerbacks this season, behind Justin Bethel, Byron Maxwell, and Dontae Johnson. In addition, his 1.35 yards per coverage snap was among the worst of the group.
Still, House knows Joe Whitt well and is still a better fit as a press-man corner than in zone. It would not be a shock to see House return to be the Packers’ third or fourth corner on a one-year deal near the veteran minimum.
CB Brandon Boykin
Previous team: Baltimore Ravens
H/W: 5’9”, 182 lbs
Experience: 6 years
On the surprising end of the spectrum is Boykin, a slot specialist who has not played in the NFL since 2015 due to multiple injuries. He was on the Bears’ injured reserve in 2016 with a pectoral injury suffered in camp then signed with the Ravens for 2017 before going on IR on the day after final cuts.
At one time, Boykin was viewed as one of the best slot corners in the league. That was after the 2013 season, which saw him record six interceptions, 17 pass defenses, and a pair of forced fumbles. However, his play tailed off a bit after that with a down year in 2014 before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2015 with Pittsburgh, PFF credited him with allowing a passer rating of 85.7 on 281 coverage snaps, including one interception.
As far as fit goes, however, Boykin is an odd choice for the Packers. He stands just 5’9-1/2”, more than an inch shorter than the Packers’ traditional minimum height of 5’10-5/8” for cornerbacks. And although the Packers could use a slot corner with Damarious Randall coming into his own on the outside and Kevin King projected as the other boundary corner, both the size and injury questions make him an odd pick for the Packers.