One of the most tiring questions at the NFL Scouting Combine each year is when players are asked repeatedly if they have held meetings with specific NFL teams. Most players in attendance in Indianapolis meet with nearly every team, but there is a difference between formal and informal meetings. With that in mind, it is also interesting to note trends in how teams use their formal meeting slots, and a trend has certainly emerged about the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.
The Packers need to come up with some answers for the safety position for 2023 and beyond. Adrian Amos’ contract recently voided, Darnell Savage is set to play on his fifth-year option, and key backup Rudy Ford will be an unrestricted free agent. With two of the top three players on last year’s depth chart set to hit the free market and the other only signed for one more season, the team certainly needs to restock the cupboard at that position.
Based on comments during the defensive backs’ media availability on Thursday, it appears that the Packers are doing a ton of research into players in the secondary who may be available to them in the middle of the first round, and particularly at the safety position.
In fact, two of the top safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft Class confirmed that they had or will have formal meetings with the Packers in Indianapolis, along with at least one cornerback currently projected to be a first-round pick.
The top safety on the current Consensus Big Board from The Athletic is Alabama’s Brian Branch, one of the three who confirmed a meeting with Green Bay. Branch is currently ranked as the 17th overall prospect on that board, and it’s not hard to see why. As the Crimson Tide’s starter at the “Star” position — a fifth defensive back primarily covering the slot — Branch put up huge numbers in 2022 with 90 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and two interceptions.
Green Bay also will have a meeting with Jordan Battle from Alabama, the 56th overall prospect on the Big Board and the third-ranked safety. A three-year starter, Battle was used as more of a box safety or in two-high safety alignments as opposed to Branch playing in the slot. Still, Battle posted three straight seasons of 66 or more tackles, with his biggest production coming in 2021 with three interceptions (two that he took back for touchdowns) and 85 total tackles.
At the cornerback position, Georgia’s Kelee Ringo will have a meeting with Green Bay as well. Ringo, who left Athens after his redshirt sophomore season, is currently listed as the fourth-best corner on the Big Board at #22 overall. He stepped into the void created in part by Eric Stokes’ departure for the NFL after the 2020 season, intercepting two passes in each of the past two seasons. Ringo was also instrumental in covering Tennessee wideout Jalin Hyatt during Georgia’s win over the Volunteers this fall.
Ringo has the size to potentially move to safety, as he should measure in above 6’2 and around 210 lbs. But the Packers may still be happy to draft a cornerback anyway; doing so could signal that the team is interested in moving Rasul Douglas from cornerback to safety, a possibility that general manager Brian Gutekunst hinted at in his press conference on Tuesday.
Expect the Packers to have some type of meeting with nearly every one of the 300-plus prospects in Indianapolis this week. Still, seeing several top defensive backs having formal meetings with Green Bay is a noteworthy development.