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Packers 2019 Training Camp Roster: Cornerbacks need health, improvement from young cornerstones

Jaire Alexander showed star potential last season, but he can’t cover everyone by himself. He’ll need help from Green Bay’s other young corners, whether it’s staying healthy or making a jump, to solidify the position.

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers
Josh Jackson (left) showed flashes in preseason he couldn’t sustain while Jaire Alexander (right) demonstrated impact player potential.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Since the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Green Bay Packers’ roster has changed significantly. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and roles on the team’s 53-man roster. Over two weeks, Acme Packing Company will break down the roster position by position and reveal our compiled predictions for the 53-man roster.

No position on the Green Bay Packers’ roster underwent a greater transformation over the last two seasons than cornerback. The Packers used two top-50 picks at the position, brought back Tramon Williams, jettisoned Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, and elevated Kevin King, himself a former 33rd overall pick.

Ted Thompson fruitlessly poured resources into the position to the point Brian Gutekunst’s first offseason included his own version of loading up for bear (no pun intended, but not not intended).

No position’s success or failure outside of quarterback may determine the path of this season like cornerback either. If Jaire Alexander takes that proverbial next step and King can stay healthy, this starting group should be very good. There’s also the development of Josh Jackson and Tony Brown along with the rock steady play of Williams to consider.

There’s even some intrigue on the back end of the depth chart where rookie Ka’Dar Hollman impressed coaches this spring, Chandon Sullivan actually had to start for Philadelphia last season, and Will Redmond has a chance to prove he’s more than a special teamer.

Jaire Alexander

Experience: Entering second year
2018 stats: 13 games played with 11 starts, 66 combined tackles, 11 passes defended, 1 interception, 3 tackles for loss, .5 sack
How acquired: Selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft (17th overall)

It’s hard to remember a rookie coming in and generating more buzz among Packer fans and NFL media alike than Alexander. Even amid a season that saw peaks and valleys, the swagger-filled Louisville product shined, making a star turn against the Rams and Brandin Cooks and punctuated by high praise from The Hoodie himself, Bill Belichick. If Alexander becomes the player he appears capable of being, he’ll be the best cornerback the team has had since Charles Woodson and will solidify a position that has been in flux since Wood left Green Bay.

Kevin King

Experience: Entering third year
2018 stats: 6 games played with 6 starts, 27 combined tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 TFL
How acquired: Selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft (33rd overall)

Just stay healthy. We saw early last season the flashes of brilliance. The length, the physicality, the ball skills. There are still times when he doesn’t tackle well, or gets beat by guys who, athletically, have no business getting by him, but the early returns on King in Year 2 were positive. His battles with Davante Adams in practice hardened him for the regular season and Mike McCarthy even mentioned King’s injury against the Vikings as one of the drivers of that loss.

Even if Alexander takes that Year 2 leap, having King be on the field and just play solid football would amplify that improvement and vice versa. The combination of King and Alexander has the potential to be special. For now, potential is all it is.

Tramon Williams

Experience: Entering 13th year
2018 stats: 16 games played with 16 starts, 54 combined tackles, 2 passes defended
How acquired: Signed in 2018 for 2 years, $10 million

It’s fair to call 2018 an underwhelming season for Williams, who was supposed to provide stability to a secondary without it. On the other hand, he spent half a season playing out of position at safety and never truly got a chance to gel with the defense around him with constant injuries. This is likely Williams’ last year in a Packers uniform, potentially his final season full stop. Most of it should be back at corner this season, with plenty of time in the slot, which should help Williams be in more positions to make plays.

Josh Jackson

Experience: Entering second year
2018 stats: 16 games played with 10 starts, 49 combined tackles, 10 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss
How acquired: Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (45th overall)

A Josh Jackson Year 2 Leap would be gravy if Alexander and King stay on the field. If King struggles to stay off the training table, then it becomes a necessity. Jackson struggled for most of the season with man coverage, not trusting his technique and playing too handsy. But the last month, a light went on and Jackson found his stride. Some of the odd mistakes like poor ball awareness should be fixed with time considering how adept he was as a playmaker at Iowa. Williams holding down that CB3 spot this season before handing it over to Jackson looks like the succession plan the Packers have in mind.

Tony Brown

Experience: Entering second year
2018 stats: 11 games played with 3 starts, 34 combined tackles, 5 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss
How acquired: Signed to practice squad in September 2018, then promoted to active roster

In a season where injuries ravaged the secondary, Brown shown brightly as a hidden gem. His physical, press man cover skills showed up regularly, as did his hard-nosed tackling ability. He competes his ass off every play and while he has to learn to keep his head on his shoulders more consistently, there’s tantalizing potential here. I’ve suggested he’s a hybrid safety candidate and once Williams ages out of impact play, we could see Brown transition to that kind of role.

Ka’dar Hollman

Experience: Rookie
2018 stats*: 13 games played with 13 starts, 32 combined tackles, 1 interception, 12 passes defended
How acquired: Selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (185th overall)

Hollman may be a one-trick pony, but that one trick is pretty good. He can play press man coverage and that’s what Mike Pettine wants to do. The more cornerbacks he has who can do it, the more flexible the defense becomes. Ideally, Hollman sits out this season as a defensive rotation player. Play some special teams, make some cameos in blowouts. If he has to play, things have gone horribly wrong with injuries (again).

*2018 Toledo stats

Will Redmond

Experience: Entering fourth year
2018 stats: 5 games played with 0 starts, 1 tackle
How acquired: Signed to the practice squad Sept. 2018

Redmond showed promise coming out of college as a former third-round pick, but things never clicked for him. He has decent size, but lacks length and has a long way to go to prove he can be anything more than a special teams player.

Chandon Sullivan

Experience: Entering second year
2018 stats: 5 games played with 1 starts, 7 combined tackles
How acquired: Signed in May 2019

Sullivan fits the profile of a classic special teamer. He’s a small-school kid without elite speed, but possesses adequate size and excellent burst. The starting experience, though just one game, is nice but more closely reflects the dire situation at corner for the Eagles last season.

Javien Hamilton

Experience: Rookie
2018 stats*: 7 games, 18 combined tackles, 2 passes defended
How acquired: Undrafted free agent 2019

When a rookie cornerback gets a number like 47, you know he’s a long shot to make the team. Hamilton is a camp body with some big conference pedigree at Ole Miss and some return ability.

*2018 Ole Miss stats

Kabion Ento

Experience: Rookie
2018 stats*: 8 games, 12 catches for 161 yards, 13.4 yards per catch
How acquired: Undrafted free agent 2019

Remember the thing about cornerback numbers in the 40’s? The Packers gave Ento 48. He’s making a position switch to cornerback from receiver. Best case, he’s a practice squad stash project.

*2018 Colorado receiver stats

Nydair Rouse

Experience*: Rookie
2018 stats: 11 games, 18 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 passes defended
How acquired: Undrafted free agent 2019

41. Any other questions?

*2018 West Chester stats