The Green Bay Packers needed yet another overhaul at the cornerback positions. Fans saw it and clearly so did the team.
For the third time in four years, the Packers used their top draft picks on a cornerback. Rather than pay ludicrous money to players like Malcolm Butler, general manager Brian Gutekunst chose to go young and ended up getting two players that could in theory start Week 1.
That being said, don’t expect the second coming of Charles Woodson and Al Harris immediately.
Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson are rookies. There’s also Kevin King, last year’s second round pick whose rookie season was bogged down with injuries. Tramon Williams was brought back to provide mentoring as much as for his coverage ability.
There will be growing pains. Mistakes will be made, sometimes even boneheaded ones. The trick for the raw secondary is to improve every week. Regression and repeated mistakes week-to-week need to be minimized for the youth movement to stick which will allow Green Bay to focus on other neglected areas on the roster (pass rusher anyone?)
Luckily, after last season’s dismal performance in pass defense, there’s really nowhere to go but up for the Green Bay defensive backs.
There’s more on the talented but young secondary in today’s cheese curds.
Relying on rookies is a dangerous proposition, but the Packers really had no choice. The best corners in free agency got much more money than the Packers wanted to pay (and rightfully so) and Alexander and Jackson both are instinctive playmakers that could thrive in the NFL. The Packers and their fans will just have endure some bumps in the road first.
One of the few bright spots for the Packers on defense last season was the emergence of Martinez and he will be counted on heavily again this year. The linebacker group as whole will be leaned upon until the young defensive backs adjust to the speed of the NFL.
The competition at long snapper would be something to behold.
Of course the Packers will only go as far as Rodgers will take them. It’s been that way in Green Bay for decades whether it Rodgers or Brett Favre at quarterback. The question is whether the team got better enough around him to at least stay afloat while the quarterback recovers from any injury.
Graham plus Rodgers equals a potential fantasy football juggernaut. His production could easily offset the loss of an aging Jordy Nelson.