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 seven and six, the Packers’ presumed top edge rusher and cornerback, respectively.
7: Za’Darius Smith, OLB
The Packers made three major splashes in free agency earlier this offseason, none bigger nor more expensive than Za’Darius Smith. A multitalented defender, Smith emerged as one of the Baltimore Ravens’ top pass rushers last season, lining up on the edge and as an interior lineman on the AFC’s best defense. In those roles, he led the team with 62 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
In Green Bay, Smith will continue to see action at numerous spots along the defensive front. His ability to play along the interior should allow defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to keep Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark fresh as well as allow for more pass rushers to play together at once. Given the presence of fellow free-agent addition Preston Smith, first-round pick Rashan Gary, and returning sack leader Kyler Fackrell, Za’Darius Smith’s versatility ranks as his most valuable trait.
6: Jaire Alexander, CB
It took less than a season for 2018 first-round pick Jaire Alexander to establish himself as the Packers’ top cornerback. While undersized at 5-foot-10, Alexander proved himself up to the task of playing press and man coverage at the NFL level. In particular, his game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 -- five pass breakups on nine targets -- ranks as one of the finest performances by a Green Bay corner in years.
Alexander won’t play to that level every week. However, if he can reduce the number of mistakes from his rookie season and remain healthy, Alexander will earn recognition as one of the better corners in the league. Already, he offers Pettine the ability to shift him around the defense. Alexander spent roughly 62 percent of his snaps as a boundary corner and about 21 percent in the slot, but he also worked in the box as a linebacker. Pettine also lined up Alexander at the line of scrimmage on blitzes. The second-year man should reprise all those roles in 2019.