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Cheese Curds, 4/20: Packers’ plans at linebacker in 2020 Draft remain unclear

Did the Packers play light because they wanted to, or because they had to? And are Mike Pettine and Brian Gutekunst in sync on the plan moving forward?

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Why have the Green Bay Packers played so much dime personnel over the past two seasons? That question cuts to the heart of the team’s plans for the 2020 NFL Draft, as the answer would help illuminate just how big a need the linebacker position is this week.

If defensive coordinator Mike Pettine likes playing a safety in the box as a de facto linebacker, then expecting (or hoping for) the team to draft an off-ball linebacker in the first few rounds is foolish. But if Pettine is simply doing what he thinks is best with the players at his disposal? In that case, the Packers could prioritize speed and coverage ability in a linebacker draft pick, and Pettine would probably be more likely to line up two of them on any given play.

It’s clear that Pettine is comfortable putting one player on the field at the Mike position who is more of a “clean-up guy,” as former Packer Blake Martinez put it this offseason. All signs point to that being new arrival Christian Kirksey. But the Will spot is traditionally where the team has played a safety, where they prioritize coverage ability. Fits at that spot could include two top options in round one, a guy like Akeem Davis-Gaither on day two, or players like Tanner Muse (a converted safety himself) or Davion Taylor on day three.

The Packers seem like a lock to add to the position in one way or another later on this week. But while the draft board will be a driving factor on when that happens, so too will be the team’s approach to that second off-ball spot in the defense.

Christian Kirksey expects seamless shift to Packers’ defense |
Kirksey played for Mike Pettine in Cleveland, yes, but he has also played for four different defensive coordinators in his six years with the Browns, and believes his intelligence and adaptability are key reasons why he can make a painless transition.

Speedy inside linebacker essential if Green Bay Packers want to play more nickel defense | (subscription)
The Packers have managed to get by with dime personnel as their effective base for about two years, lining up a safety at inside linebacker. Is this how Mike Pettine wants to play, or has he just done so out of necessity? A faster, more instinctive linebacker like Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen might push him to use more base and traditional nickel moving forward.

Prospect Profiles: Josh Uche | Packer Report
The Packers could go for a hybrid linebacker, someone who can play a little off-ball and a little edge. If they do that, Uche could be a great fit, maybe early on day two.

5 positions the Packers are almost guaranteed to take in 2020 draft | Packers Wire
These are no-brainers, but it's still worth getting one's expectations in line early.

Brett Favre's quarantine fun: TikTok videos and (orange) hair dye - ESPN
These truly are strange times.

Finally, move over, Joe Buck — this guy is coming for your job.