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Packers 2019 Training Camp Roster: the team improved as much as a team can at safety

Amos and Savage could make safety a plus position for the first time in years.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, the Green Bay Packers’ roster looks very different from how it appeared at the end of the 2018 season. A large group of free agents, draft picks, and undrafted rookies will come to training camp to challenge for roster spots and a role on the team’s regular season 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.

Let’s pour one out for the departed Ha Ha Clinton Dix, a mediocre NFL athlete who parlayed a nice college pedigree and some of the easiest interceptions you will ever see into a reputation as a difference-maker. While it’s true that Clinton-Dix is a difference maker, his departure from Green Bay looks like an entirely positive difference for his former team and an entirely poor one for his current team. In the grand scheme of things, safety isn’t that important a position, but the upgrade the Packers have over Clinton-Dix, and the downgrade the Bears will suffer, might be substantial enough to tilt the division.

Adrian Amos

NFL Experience: Entering his 5th season
2018 NFL stats: 16 games, all starts. 73 tackles (59 solo), 9 passes defended, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions.
How Acquired: Signed a 4-year, $36,000,000 with the Packers in 2019 ($12,000,000 guaranteed)

Let’s stipulate, because otherwise Bears fans will, that Amos is a good but not great safety. For the Packers it hardly matters as the position seems cursed since the untimely end of Nick Collins’ career, and the relative upgrade Amos provides cannot be overstated. Amos is a surprisingly athletic player who posted an elite RAS out of Penn State, and Amos makes good use of his size and hitting ability as one of the surest tacklers of any secondary in the NFL.

He’s also no slouch in coverage, and his technique combined with his aggressiveness is as stylistically different from Clinton-Dix as you can get. Amos will not make many dainty touch tackles in 2019. The Packers completely remade their defense in the offseason, and Brian Gutekunst did an excellent job at assessing the team’s real weaknesses, and pursuing difference-makers at those positions. This was, perhaps, the crown jewel of that effort.

Darnell Savage

NFL Experience: Rookie
2019 Stats at Maryland: 12 games, 52 tackles (38 solo), 2 passes defended, 4 picks, 5.5 tackles for loss.
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2019 NFL draft.

Relative Athletic Score tells an interesting story of Savage, who posted an elite composite and elite-level testing across the board, held back only by height, weight, and bench press. The question about Savage isn’t whether or not he can play. He’s an absolute missile who excels in coverage, and can keep up with even top receivers. The issue with Savage is likely to be durability, and don’t be surprised to hear the name Bob Sanders come up as a comparison, for good and ill.

But, while Savage is a bit light for the position, he’s not as small as Sanders, and his coverage skills are as strong as his thumping skills, meaning that not every play is going to in a devastating collision. If Savage can stay on the field, the Packers may quickly find themselves with one of the best safety tandems in football, as he and Amos team up to punish those in front of them. However, there is risk here as well, and if he and King were to go down together, the Packers will be right back to the drawing board.

Raven Greene

NFL Experience: Entering his 2nd season
2018 NFL stats: 8 games, 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 passes defended, 1 tackles for loss, 1 sack.
How Acquired: Signed as rookie UDFA in 2018

the safety position gets a bit thin after the first two, but Greene and Josh Jones provide interesting mirror images. Raven Greene is not terribly athletic, but he’s a good try-hard guy with pretty good technique, a willing hitter, and a careful gambler. While Greene is not ideal as an every day starter, if he has to fill in for a few games he’ll be in the right place at the right time, and won’t embarrass himself.

He is susceptible to letting players get behind him occasionally, but his deep speed is well above average and it’s difficult to just run by him. Wiggly slot guys can eat him up underneath, but Greene does enough well across the board that this is a pretty minor sin.

Josh Jones

NFL Experience: Entering his 3rd season
2018 NFL stats: 13 games, 5 starts, 55 tackles (40 solo), 2 passes defended, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack.
How Acquired: Drafted in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 2017 NFL draft.

Unlike Greene, Jones has all the talent in the world, and also unlike Greene, Jones often finds himself standing in the wrong place, covering the wrong guy, and allowing huge gains. He’s also been a bit of an offseason malcontent, reportedly asking for his release or a trade.

Jones is a bigger safety capable of stepping up as an additional box-filling linebacker, and the Packers have attempted repeatedly to make the most out of this alleged versatility, but the fact is that Jones isn’t particularly good at either. The body is there, but the football acumen may not be, and a change of scenery may not be the worst thing in the world. Still, if the new regime can harness any of his raw athleticism, he can still bring value.

Natrell Jamerson

NFL Experience: Entering his 2nd season
2018 NFL stats: 12 games, 0 starts, 10 tackles (8 solo), 1 pass defended.
How Acquired: Claimed off of waivers. Currently in the 2nd year of a 4 year, $2,725,621 contract.

The Wisconsin product has a few things in common with Savage as a slightly undersized downhill missile, but that’s where the comparison ends. Jamerson suffered a few serious injuries in college, and while the speed is still there, he lacks the agility of a true difference-maker. Still, Jamerson isn’t a bad piece to have. When healthy he’s an elite athlete who may still develop into something more, and if not, he’s a great special teams cog and a willing backup who can cover deep speed in a pinch. Though listed as a corner on the team’s official roster, he has been playing safety in spring practices and looks like a candidate for a hybrid safety/slot/linebacker role.

Mike Tyson

NFL Experience: Entering his 3rd season
2018 NFL stats: 10 games, 2 starts, 5 tackles (3 solo), 1 pass defended.
How Acquired: Claimed off of waivers in May 2019. Currently in the final year of a 2 year, $1,200,000 contract.

Tyson may seem like cannon fodder with a boxer’s name, but he’s exactly the type of player you may want to take another look at. Tyson was drafted by the Seahawks and promptly shifted to corner. This was, frankly, a silly idea that didn’t do Tyson any favors. Safety was where he played in college at Cincinnati, and as a corner, he’s too big and lacks shiftiness. He’s exactly the type of player you move to safety, not from it.

He’s not a great athlete, but players who run into poor schemes sometimes have more to offer than meets the eye. In the right situation he could still flourish, and if he flames out, they’ve lost nothing. He’ll be a tough punch out.

Tray Matthews

NFL Experience: Entering his 2nd season
2018 NFL stats: DNP
How Acquired: Signed to practice squad in 2018; on a 1 year, $495,000 contract.

Matthews is another great-RAS, low technique prospect, this time with a big-school pedigree as an Auburn alum. Matthews is unlikely to make the team, but given the lack of depth in front of him, and some of the injury issues that could potentially arise, he’ll have a chance to stick if he’s coachable, and he is a great practice squad candidate.