Looking ahead to the 2019 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers will begin to plot offseason moves to get the organization back in shape for a postseason run. Part of that planning will involve evaluation of younger players currently on the roster and Green Bay may have found a true gem with undrafted cornerback Tony Brown.
The former Alabama cover man did not record an interception for the Packers this season, but he did force two fumbles while giving the team a jolt of energy on defense and special teams. Green Bay has found diamonds in the rough before and appears to have found another in Brown, who started three of the final four games.
But Brown was not the only Packer to take advantage of his opportunities in the second half of the season. With the Packers’ 2018 season now in the rear view mirror, here are a few players who cashed in on their golden opportunities.
The undrafted rookie defensive tackle from Northwestern graded out very well down the stretch, becoming a dependable run defender for the Packers in the midst of injuries to Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. After beginning on the practice squad, Lancaster made the most of his chances when called up in early October and even posted six tackles against Chicago. His ability to consistently withstand blocks from interior offensive linemen before shedding blocks and finding the ballcarrier, as seen below, truly was a bright spot in the team’s dismal ending to the season. Lancaster will enter 2019 firmly in position to earn a depth role once again and became the kind of role player the Packers hoped Montravius Adams would be.
I keep talking up Tyler Lancaster on Daily and on Transplants. Good look at why from @BenFennell_NFL in his always excellent film break down. Packers found themselves a player. https://t.co/OZwGsNdZBG pic.twitter.com/sjgACTf6L2— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) December 19, 2018
#Packers rookie DT Tyler Lancaster starting to put together some strong games... 22 snaps vs HST. Stout play at POA and showed consistent ability to shed blockers— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 13, 2018
Packers Film Room: https://t.co/vQNvwFTi0s
Story on Lancaster from @JCTSports: https://t.co/MhpIeqPz5O pic.twitter.com/dVZuL192Vf
It took longer than anticipated for Breeland to see the field for Green Bay after signing in late September, but when he did he made an impact for Green Bay on defense and special teams.
With the luster of his signing, it was easy to forget that Breeland was fighting for a future roster spot on a one-year deal. A foot injury and failed physical prevented Breeland from cashing in on the free agent market last offseason, eventually forcing him to sign for less than $1 million. A groin injury did not help Breeland’s cause during his year in Green Bay, as he played in just seven games. But Breeland showed potential in coverage by intercepting two passes, including a pick-six against Atlanta. He also played a role as a pinch kick returner.
The asking price this offseason will determine Breeland’s future with the Packers, but his play on the field this season will give him a second look. Injury history might also help Green Bay re-sign the veteran to a team-friendly deal that further stabilizes the rising cornerback group.
Claimed off waivers from Oakland only a month ago, Brown only played in four games for the Packers. But his energy, quickness off the snap, and athleticism was present in flashes for Green Bay and should have another opportunity in training camp to see if he can replicate those traits.
Although Lancaster’s consistency will give him a leg up, Brown’s performance in back-to-back plays against Chicago was impressive and opened some eyes. Brown’s burst inside off the snap stuffed a third down rush in the backfield. Then, another finely-shredded block on a fake punt attempt resulted in a drive-ending tackle on the next play.
No, Brown is not guaranteed a roster spot next season, but he put himself on the radar in just four games.
Equanimeous St. Brown
Marquez Valdes-Scantling stole the show to begin the season, but St. Brown showed the best adjustment and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers by season’s end.
St. Brown’s hands surprised in Green Bay after being a noticeable body-catcher in college. The Notre Dame product showed the capability to make plays on the sideline or across the middle and became more of an intermediate threat as the season progressed. He was targeted a season-high five times in two of his final five games of the season and ended his season on a good note in Week 16 with 94 receiving yards against the New York Jets.
While St. Brown did not reach the end zone as a rookie, he did show signs of blossoming into a reliable third receiver in 2019. The Packers have to feel good about their first-year receiving corps despite some growing pains. St. Brown may be the best of them.
Right guard will be an area the Packers look to upgrade this spring, but Patrick cemented his spot as a dependable interior depth player down the stretch. Starting the final four games of the season in the midst of injuries all along the offensive line, Patrick may not be long-term starter material, but he has a role on this team.
Praised for his toughness and team-oriented nature, Patrick’s ability to back up the guard and center positions gives the Packers versatility on the line. The former tryout player has had a good run in Green Bay and really stepped up in the absence of fifth-rounder Cole Madison in 2018. Patrick’s play was as good or equal to what was seen from Justin McCray and Byron Bell earlier in the year and should be back in 2019 despite an expiring contract.