Converting former college wide receivers into professional cornerbacks is not a new concept for the Green Bay Packers.
The franchise struck gold when it turned Sam Shields, primarily a pass catcher at the University of Miami, into a full-time defensive back and watched him turn into a Pro Bowl-caliber cover man. Green Bay attempted to replicate its success with Shields with additional players in the past five years, including Herb Waters and Raysean Pringle, with much more limited success. Former cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. once said that it was all about finding “skill sets” and measurable traits in determining which athletes could make such a switch.
The latest first-year Packer to undergo a shift in position is former Colorado wide receiver Kabion Ento.
At about 6-foot-1, Ento brings size to the cornerback room, along with a 41.5” vertical despite not having elite speed. It was only two months ago that this author declared the Green Bay defensive back cupboard to be fairly full, with none of the additional names on the outside looking in for a final roster spot, including Ento. Through a week of training camp and a strong Family Night practice, Ento has certainly emerged as a name to watch as preseason action kicks off this week.
Sliding up the depth chart, UDFA CB Kabion Ento getting second-team reps alongside Ka’Dar Hollman. Ento, the former WR, has had a decent start to camp. A guy worth watching.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 4, 2019
Really good play by #Packers CB Kabion Ento, undercutting WR Allen Lazard to intercept Manny Wilkins. Ento is a big corner, great vertical, and former college WR. Showed some ball skills there.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) July 30, 2019
CB Kabion Ento keeps showing up with passes broken up. Played WR at Colorado, but he has cornerback length and a 41 1/2-inch vertical. Interesting prospect to watch rest of camp.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 3, 2019
Ento follows up with a really nice pbu in coverage on Shepherd. For a converted WR, Kabion Ento doesn’t look out of place at all. Those are the type of plays that’ll get you noticed.— Andy Herman (@SconnieSports) July 25, 2019
I’ve been really impressed with 3rd string defense & communication. All on the same page!
As concerns rise over Kevin King’s hamstring injury, an ailment that ended his 2018 campaign, the Packers may be on the lookout once again for depth at corner. Tony Brown has slid in with the first-team unit with Jaire Alexander and Tramon Williams in the midst of the injuries to King and Josh Jackson. However, Ento earning second-team snaps with the defense ahead of younger veterans Will Redmond and Chandon Sullivan signals some level of intrigue in the upside Ento has displayed to date. Of course, being able to hold down a spot on special teams units will only help Ento’s chances at qualifying for a spot on the 53-man roster, and he was a core member of the Buffaloes’ punt coverage and return units as a senior.
With the Packers’ first exhibition game quickly approaching on Thursday night against the Houston Texans, the probability is high that Green Bay will not risk further injury to King as they wait a full diagnosis. In such a case, Ento should have a chance to build upon his early success with meaningful snaps against NFL regulars.