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Packers 2017 Additions: New cornerbacks did not produce up to expectations

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Despite signing a free agent and adding a high draft pick, the Packers were left wanting more from their additions at cornerback.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Over a two-week span, we at Acme Packing Company are breaking down the Green Bay Packers’ 2017 roster and looking ahead to the free agency period in 2018. Today, we address the cornerback position.

The Green Bay Packers invested some substantial resources in the team’s cornerbacks room in 2017, and the squad got a full starter’s worth of snaps out of the new additions. However, injuries and poor play prevented the new faces at the position from living up to their full potential, and they also probably contributed to Dom Capers’ firing.

Here’s a look at the four Packers corners from 2017 who were added prior to that season.

Davon House

How acquired: Street free agent (released by Jaguars)
Contract: One year, $2.8 million
2017 Stats: 12 games played, 12 starts; 44 total tackles, 37 solo, 1.0 sack; 1 interception, 6 passes defended; 659 defensive snaps (62.4% of team total), 46 special teams snaps (10.8%)

After being miscast in a heavily zone-based coverage scheme during his second season in Jacksonville, House landed on the market after the Jaguars released him last March. It was a logical move for him to return to the Packers, the team who drafted him, and his signing was lauded as a prudent move for a reasonable cost.

Unfortunately, House battled injuries for much of 2017, often playing through significant problems that visibly hampered him. Even when he was fully healthy, he had some struggles, ranking 93rd among all qualifying NFL corners in yards allowed per coverage snap while allowing a passer rating of more than 107 into his coverage (as reported by Pro Football Focus). Still, some of those issues may have been due to Dom Capers still using a great deal of zone coverages, while House has proven to be better in press man.

Kevin King

How acquired: Second-round draft pick (#33 overall)
Contract: 4 years, $7.08 million
2017 Stats: 9 games played, 5 starts; 27 total tackles, 21 solo; 5 passes defended; 382 defensive snaps (36.2%), 73 special teams snaps (17.2%)

Although King started out training camp with the starting defense, he slipped back on the depth chart a bit to start the season, playing just six snaps in week one. However, week two saw King take over a primary role, as he shadowed Julio Jones for much of the game with good results.

Over the next several weeks, King showed flashes of all the qualities that made him the Packers’ first selection in the 2017 NFL Draft: speed, quickness, length, and even a tenacious attitude to tackling that the Packers have rarely seen from a cornerback. However, a nagging shoulder injury bothered King throughout the season, eventually landing him on injured reserve.

Surgery hopefully has fixed the problem and Packers fans can hope for King to be 100% to start 2018. If so, he should be penciled in as a starter opposite Damarious Randall.

Lenzy Pipkins

How acquired: Signed as undrafted rookie free agent
Contract: 3 years, $1.665 million
2017 Stats: 12 games played, 1 start; 14 total tackles, 11 solo; 1 pass defended; 122 defensive snaps (11.6%), 113 special teams snaps (26.7%)

One of a handful of undrafted free agents to make the team out of camp, Pipkins took a while to get any meaningful action on defense but saw some time down the stretch, particularly in week 17 when he lined up on 52 of the team’s 58 defensive plays. Pipkins possesses good size and speed and showed a willingness to play a physical brand of football, both in coverage and in run support. Look for him to compete strongly for a reserve corner spot again next season.

Donatello Brown

How acquired: Signed as undrafted rookie free agent
Contract: One year, $465,000
2017 Stats: 4 games played; no accrued stats; one defensive snap, 17 special teams snaps

Unlike Pipkins, Brown started the season on the practice squad and was called up about halfway through the season. He was often a gameday inactive and even when he was active it was for a few special teams snaps and as insurance against further injuries to the other cornerbacks. Brown had an excellent end to the preseason, however, and like Pipkins should have a shot at a job again next summer.