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.
Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (with a dash of Josh Jones) made up the early season safety battery for the Packers in early 2018. Brice was an undrafted free agent overmatched in the modern NFL, especially when paired with Clinton-Dix, who will forever serve as a cautionary tale about taking members of the Alabama secondary.
In their place, the Packers will now start a technically sound veteran still in his prime and a hard-hitting first round rookie. The new blood will almost certainly be more exciting, more aggressive, and more effective.
Starters: Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos
I mentioned Clinton-Dix as a cautionary tale because the Alabama secondary has the benefit of playing behind one of the fiercest college front sevens there is. Clinton-Dix’s style of playing a ball-hawking center field works well in that scenario, and may actually work well in Chicago behind Khalil Mack and company. When you pluck a safety from the NFL’s Alabama defense equivalent, you do run a risk that he is generating production in a similar fashion, and may struggle outside of it.
In this case, you can put your fears at ease. Far from a passive participant, Amos was as aggressive and sure as any player on the Bears defense. He can move from safety valve to slot to run support seamlessly and should provide excellent versatility and confidence for the rest of the secondary. The Bears are justifiably higher on strong safety Eddie Jackson, but don’t underestimate Amos’ role on that great defense. The Bears were as strong up the middle as any team last season, but a good chunk of that strength now plays in Green Bay.
It’s easy to be overly optimistic about any first round rookie, but it’s hard not to see Savage stepping in and excelling. The learning curve on safety is pretty low, and one of the reasons he went as high as he did is his NFL-ready technique combined with his ability. I’m wrong about rookies all the time, and I could be wrong here, but his college tape is encouraging, and the Kentrell Brice bar is a pretty low one to clear.
Backups: Raven Greene, Josh Jones, Natrell Jamerson
Greene acquitted himself well enough in limited play last season, and should one of the starters suffer an injury he won’t kill you for a few games. Greene’s a smart player, and should remain a calming presence and solid depth.
Jones, for all of the trouble he’s caused and lack of production, still may offer something in the right scheme. He’s still debatably the best athlete on the team, and as more of a quasi-linebacker/downhill guy, he’s worth taking one more shot. But only one more.
Jamerson is a willing and able special teamer, and a better emergency safety than you’ll find on most teams. If he can stay healthy for another year there may even still be a decent prospect waiting to be uncovered.
Released: Tray Matthews, Mike Tyson
Though it may sound as if I’ve made up both of these players, nothing could be further from the truth. Matthews is an athletic project with a big school pedigree and may stick as a practice squad guy. Tyson has been used out of his natural position for most of his NFL career, and a return to safety gives him a puncher’s chance, but no more than that.