Grading the Packers by Position: Defenseby Prime Time Sports Talk February 10, 2019 0 comments
This is the second part of a three-part series on the Green Bay Packers, grading the different positions while also pinpointing various positions that need improvement ahead of free agency and the NFL draft.
You can check out the offensive grades here.
Defensive Line: B
Kenny Clark is one of the most underrated players on the Packers defense, but behind him at defensive tackle, there isn’t much depth. Montravius Adams and Tyler Lancaster have shown flashes of potential, but if Ed Oliver falls in the draft, the Packers should take him. If not, they should still look at one for cheap in free agency or late in the draft. At defensive end, Mike Daniels is a great player who can stop the run. At the other end position, Muhammad Wilkerson started out good before he got injured. Dean Lowry came in and started well after that, but he isn’t anything special. Packers should look to re-sign Wilkerson for cheap and see if he can be a starter; otherwise, maybe Lowry will take a fourth-year jump.
Middle Linebacker: C+
Blake Martinez is a tackling machine, but a liability in coverage. Antonio Morrison brings great energy but is also not spectacular in coverage. Jake Ryan tore his ACL and is a free agent, and the expectation is that the Packers will let him walk. Oren Burks was a third-round pick in last year’s draft but didn’t show anything special, and barely even played following the Patriots game. Josh Jones is listed as a safety but is better as a hybrid linebacker. The Packers should look into Devin White if he falls in the draft, or maybe make an attempt to sign C.J Mosley. If not, adding a linebacker late and entering the next season with Blake Martinez and Josh Jones starting isn’t a terrible option.
Outside Linebacker: D+
Kyler Fackrell took a huge third-year jump with 10.5 sacks, but six of those came in the span of two games. The Packers need a more consistent pass rusher to start alongside Fackrell, or they can just let Fackrell be a situational pass rusher. Clay Matthews is a free agent and likely good as gone, while Nick Perry is a cut candidate after a season he had just one-and-a-half sacks, spending most of the year on the injured reserve. The Packers should take advantage of a free agency loaded with pass rushers and sign somebody like Anthony Barr, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Preston Smith, Shaquil Barrett, Dee Ford, Marquis Flowers, Frank Clark or Dante Fowler, while also considering taking one in the first round.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was traded midseason for a fourth-round pick and made an already-weak safety position even weaker. Kentrell Brice had a bad year, Josh Jones is inconsistent and Tramon Williams is 36 years old. This position should be addressed in free agency and the draft; Nasir Adderley would be a perfect fit for this team.
Once considered the weak spot, the cornerback position is now a strength. Jaire Alexander has the potential of being a future All-Pro. Tony Brown looks like a great undrafted free agent find. Kevin King has shown flashes of optimism when healthy, although injuries have been a real problem for him. Bashaud Breeland had two interceptions, including one pick-six, and re-signing him should be general manager Brian Gutekunst’s top priority. Josh Jackson showed some flashes, but most expected him to struggle the way he did; however, he is expected to play better next year. This is a young group of guys with great potential.