Welcome to the prediction section of the offseason. Over two weeks, Acme Packing Company will present our overall roster predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ season-opening 53-man roster. Today, we continue with the Packers’ safeties.
The safety position is one of the youngest and weakest on the Packers’ roster, and it’s entirely possible that the real answers to this question aren’t even on the team yet. Given the quality of available veterans now, and after a round or two of cuts, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see a few new faces join the crowd, but as it stands we at APC predict that five safeties will make the roster.
The Starters: Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Josh Jones
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The wily veteran of the group, Clinton-Dix will anchor the back end. Hopefully under Pettine this means “provide solid leadership while flourishing a new, more aggressive system” and not “drag the defense helplessly to the bottom of the ocean.”
Clinton-Dix is in a contract year, and if he finally shows up in a big way he stands to make a good chunk of change on the free agent market next season, but there is a real question as to just how good he actually is. Ha Ha boasts a first round pedigree, but he’s not really a first round athlete, and doesn’t seem to possess first round instincts.
Assessing anyone properly over the last few years is a bit tricky and everyone will get a clean slate with Pettine, but this is a make or break year for Clinton-Dix, and almost anything could happen.
A player like Josh Jones just begs for a more aggressive scheme. He’ll get it, and a big opportunity in his second year. Jones is huge, fast, and has already made several big plays in his limited time in the league. That said, he’s also been inconsistent, occasionally missing an assignment or a tackle, but that is to be expected from a rookie playing in an injury-plagued, disorganized miasma of a defense.
This seems like an excellent fit between coordinator and player, and Jones is a good bet to take a step forward this season.
The Backups: Kentrell Brice, Jermaine Whitehead, Marwin Evans
Brice is a solid athlete and a big hitter who performed admirably in a tough spot, but he does occasionally let the big hit get in the way of his instincts. His downhill play was a breath of fresh air next to Clinton-Dix, but he’ll need to improve on his technique to be more than a one trick pony.
Whitehead struggled in all facets of safety play last season, and while he’s not a bad athlete, he’s the worst of the three backups. Compounding this problem is the fact that Whitehead has yet to show anything special, or even average on the field. He’s occasionally been a valuable special teamer, but generally speaking, Whitehead is just a guy, and if a better option is available he will wind up as just a guy on another team.
Evans has played some of the best football among the backups, but his disappearing act last year may indicate that the team is less than happy with him. That said, it’s also entirely possible that whatever element didn’t appreciate evans is now gone, and he may still get a shot. While Evans may technically be the best of the backups, all are, to some extent, easily replaceable cannon fodder, and no one is a sure bet to make the team. On pure on-field production, Evans stands out.
Released: Raven Greene
Quoth the Raven, “Sign me to the practice squad.” The safety position is so young, and so unproven, and so reliant on undrafted free agents that Greene enters an ideal situation for an unproven player with a small school pedigree. Greene received some votes to make the active roster, and it’s not hard to see why as the competition in front of him is lackluster, and injuries are frequent. Greene may be the odd man out for the time being, but I suspect it won’t be for long.