Early this week, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry addressed the fact that he has eight first-round draft picks to work with on defense. Barry said that the team’s expectations would be high for the defense regardless of his players’ draft status, but acknowledged that he was aware of them.
However, there are questions aplenty at a few positions on Barry’s defense, and it appears that he will be looking to players with much less lofty draft credentials to fill them.
In particular, the Packers need to find answers at safety and on the defensive line, two groups that account for a combined total of three of those first-round picks across five starting spots. Yes, all three of those players — Kenny Clark, Darnell Savage, and Devonte Wyatt — are expected to be starters this year. However, only one of those three, Clark, has been a consistent, reliable player for some time.
Savage got benched for a stretch last season and has struggled with inconsistent play. Meanwhile, Wyatt could barely crack the lineup last year for some reason, sitting behind Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed until Lowry’s injury late in the season.
To compete with those players and vie for the other starting jobs, the team is relying on a mix of day-three draft picks, undrafted free agents, and veterans pulled off the scrap heap. It’s a strategy that could work, theoretically, but the team is counting on competition to force those players to elevate their play and earn starting jobs.
Will it work? We’ll find out over the next several months.
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"Pleased" is an interesting feeling about a position group that has one established starter (Darnell Savage, who was benched for a few games last season) and no other player with 20 or more starts on the roster.
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One of the people making decisions about the safety group is Williams, the team's new passing game coordinator. Before those decisions happen, however, he will be attending the NFL's spring meetings as part of a program geared towards building up coaches' exposure to owners and executives and develop relationships.
Packers don’t have luxury of bringing inexperienced interior DLs along slowly in 2023 | Packers Wire
Much like the safety position, the Packers need some immediate impact from players around Kenny Clark. Also much like the safety position, the team has just the one experienced starter on the line.
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OLBs coach Jason Rebrovich talked about the former 5-star recruit on Thursday, saying "He has a lot of talent but he needs to be pushed." Hopefully Green Bay is the right place for Cox to focus on football and stay out of trouble.
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