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Cheese Curds, 5/18: Despite inexperience, Packers confident at safety, defensive line

The team’s coaches feel that opportunity and competition will bring out the best in the players vying for spots in the lineup at those positions.

New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

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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Would you believe that the NFC North ranks 4th on this list? That's behind three divisions in the AFC: the North, East, and West.

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