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.
We have come to the final prediction for the defense and in effect the final meaningful set of predictions for the Packers’ 53-man roster. If you have been following along closely, you will note that before the safeties and special teams players, we have projected 46 players on the active roster. That means that with three specialists, there will be room for just four safeties. Indeed, that’s what we are projecting on the roster to start 2017.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
He’s a Pro Bowler, and he played every snap on defense for the Packers last season. Clinton-Dix is on the verge of stardom, and he’s locked up through 2018 thanks to the team picking up his fifth-year option. He should challenge for All-Pro honors this season, and only an injury would be likely to keep him out of the lineup.
As the other half of the tandem, Burnett doesn’t mind getting dirty in the box, as he has been one of the top run-defending safeties in the NFL for a few years now. His ability (and willingness) to step in at inside linebacker and slot corner were invaluable last year, and it will be fascinating to see how his contract situation plays out next spring.
As a second-round pick, Jones is guaranteed a roster spot barring injury. But even if he weren’t, his play in OTAs and minicamp had coaches and fellow teammates excited. Fans should keep an eye out to see just how often he lines up at inside linebacker in training camp, as this could be an indication of how the coaches view him in the long-term. However, he might also be the first man up at free safety if Ha Ha were to miss any significant time.
Brice appears firmly entrenched as Burnett’s backup for the time being, as well as a staple on special teams. In fact, he and Jones will likely have a good battle in camp to see which player backs up Burnett when he moves around the defense.
Missing the Cut
Marwin Evans, Aaron Taylor, Jermaine Whitehead
It may be a slight surprise that APC only kept four safeties, considering the fact that Burnett and Jones should both take significant snaps at inside linebacker. As it turned out, it was actually the toughest position to call, as half of the contributors kept five and the other half four, but safety ended up being the odd one out. Evans and Whitehead each earned votes on the 53.
Ultimately, if this quartet stays healthy, it should be one of the best safety units in the NFL this season, possessing two terrific starters and tantalizing athletic ability from both reserves.