Continuing our series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster prior to training camp, we examine the cornerback position and reveal our pre-camp predictions for the team’s 2017 53-man roster. Ten APC contributors submitted full roster predictions, and we will present the consensus predictions drawn from those individual guesses over the days leading up to the start of camp.
Ranked 31st in passing yards allowed, Green Bay’s pass defense had a forgettable 2016 season. Due to the unit’s injuries and overall performance a year ago, APC’s writers elected six cornerbacks to the 53-man roster in 2017, including a couple of newcomers expected to aid the pass defense immediately.
Starters - Outside
House makes his return to Green Bay after a two-year hiatus in Jacksonville. A natural outside cover corner, House has an opportunity to gain a starting spot and thrive in a system he already knows. While injuries plagued House off and on during his first stint with the team, he has played all 16 games the past two seasons.
The Packers continued to invest at cornerback this offseason by making King its first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. The tall, long-armed King has a tantalizing array of tools for Packers’ cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. to work with. King’s length and speed is something Green Bay doesn’t have at the position, providing him with an opportunity to win a starting job immediately.
Starter - Slot
Working in the slot much more this offseason, Randall gets the starting nod in that position in APC’s predictions. A big comeback year is needed for the former first round pick who battled injuries throughout an inconsistent sophomore season. A playmaking role similar to the one he played in college should help Randall bounce back.
Despite up-and-down performances in the playoffs, Gunter was forced to step up and cover the opposing team’s best receiver in consecutive weeks. It was a tall task for the former undrafted player, but Gunter performed admirably enough to be at least a spot starter for the Pack. With his height and experience, Gunter earns another roster spot.
The former second round pick gets a chance to redeem himself in 2017, but he has to show enough promise this season to be safe for future seasons. Green Bay selected Rollins as a raw, inexperienced college football player three years ago, but has yet to see a polished pro. For the Packers’ secondary to improve this season, it needs Rollins to take that leap.
APC writers predict that the second-year pro will fight off a medley of competitors for the sixth and final cornerback spot on the 53-man roster. Hawkins, who won a spot last year as an undrafted free agent, played predominantly special teams as a rookie. But, as 2016 showed us, every corner kept on the roster will have a chance to play defense if injuries arise.
Missing the Cut
Donatello Brown, Demetri Goodson (PUP list), Daquan Holmes, Lenzy Pipkins, Raysean Pringle, Herb Waters
The Packers’ pass coverage was a weakness a year ago, but the additions of House and King and full health of Randall and Rollins give Green Bay a reason to be optimistic in 2017. Hawkins’ roster spot should be an all-out battle with a number of young prospects with measurables competing in camp. Which corners ultimately win starting roles will be a storyline to follow in training camp and over the course of the 2017 season.