With veteran free agency essentially concluded and the 2019 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, Acme Packing Company will once again rank and break down the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster.
These rankings represent a composite of the individual selections from several APC contributors. Today, we reveal players 30 through 27, a group including three defensive backs vying for significant roles in the defense.
30: Jason Spriggs, OL
Less than three years ago, the Packers had yet to sign David Bakhtiari to the extension that solidified him as Aaron Rodgers’ long-term left tackle and the team needed a backup plan in the event his contract demands grew too expensive. With that in mind, former general manager Ted Thompson traded up in the second round to secure Jason Spriggs, a hulking, athletic offensive lineman out of Indiana.
Though Green Bay has largely hit on their offensive linemen, Spriggs proved to be an exception. He struggled with pass protection and injuries since entering the league, limiting him to mere swing-tackle duties. In 2018, only two of the Packers’ offensive linemen registered worse pressure rates than Spriggs’ 6.4 percent: Justin McCray (6.7) and Byron Bell (9). McCray’s play removed him from any competition for a starting role while Bell’s convinced the team to let him walk in free agency. That Spriggs’ performance puts him in line with either underscores how poorly his career has unfolded to date.
Spriggs enters 2019 without a guaranteed roster spot, though he can probably remain in Green Bay so long as he outperforms Alex Light, Yosh Nijman, or any of the other candidates for the backup tackle role.
29: Tony Brown, CB
Tony Brown landed in Green Bay in Week 4 last season after washing out with the Los Angeles Chargers, the team that drafted him just months earlier. Though Brown possessed impressive athletic tools and came from the highly successful Nick Saban football machine at Alabama, he seemed one mistake away from falling out with his second NFL team in less than a year.
Brown could have just faded to the back of the roster. Instead, he found regular work on special teams and as a reserve cornerback as the year unfolded. During a stretch between Weeks 4 and 11, he gave the Packers defense some of its best pass coverage, limiting opposing passers to just 78 yards, four first downs, and zero touchdowns, good for a combined passer rating of 84.7. His performance dropped off soon after along with the rest of the defense, but his upside remains intriguing.
28: Josh Jackson, CB
The second of the two cornerbacks the Packers selected at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Jackson showed signs of promise early in his rookie season. However, opposing teams soon learned that they could pick on him in man coverage, leading to a barrage of defensive penalties that sent Jackson to the bench.
While the setbacks of the 2018 season raise some concerns, Jackson likely always needed a year to adjust to the more man-heavy coverages of the NFL. And while he’ll need to show improvement in that area, Jackson offers the top-shelf play-making skills that made him an All-American at Iowa.
With a strong training camp and preseason, Jackson could earn a starting role in the secondary, whether as one of the top two corners or as a de facto starter in the Packers’ nickel and sub packages.
27: Tramon Williams, CB
Tramon Williams spent most of his first season back with the Packers playing at safety, a situation that unfolded after the team traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington. Williams played admirably considering his limited experience at the position, but he remains a better fit at cornerback.
Green Bay appears to feel the same way, and after adding Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage this offseason, Williams will shift back to his more familiar role at corner. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will start again in 2019; the aforementioned Jackson and third-year defensive back Kevin King will also compete for snaps next to No. 1 corner Jaire Alexander. Further, if injuries or poor play limit the play at safety, Williams could find himself shifting back into that role. Regardless, the Packers value Williams’ versatility as they continue to rebuild their secondary.