This is the fifth story in a series that’s examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the 2016 draft. The series continues with the defensive backs.
GREEN BAY – If there’s a position group that may not get much attention in this draft, it’s the defensive backfield.
Over the last two years, the Packers have used three of four picks in the first two rounds to address their secondary needs. First-round selections Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety (2014) and Damarious Randall at cornerback (2015) became starters as rookies, while second-round corner Quinten Rollins (2015) has the makings of a future starter.
That’s a lot of draft capital wisely spent that will allow the Packers to focus on other areas of the defense for now.
The group of Sam Shields, Randall and Rollins at corner, plus Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett at safety, and fourth-year veteran Micah Hyde able to play either spot, gives the Packers everyone they need (barring injury) for the base, nickel and dime packages.
With Shields and Randall on the outside, Rollins and Hyde would appear to be the top candidates, as of now, for the slot corner positions in the nickel and dime, which the Packers employ often.
Six starting-caliber defensive backs aren’t enough in today’s NFL, though, because if an injury strikes, a matchup problem can arise in a hurry.
Green Bay does have depth, most notably two undrafted prospects at cornerback who will be worth watching through the offseason program and training camp.
LaDarius Gunter impressed in limited action as a rookie in 2015 and will battle for playing time, as will Robertson Daniel, who spent all of last season on the practice squad. Third-year pro Demetri Goodson remains in the mix as well, though he’s suspended for the first four games of 2016.
That’s not to say the Packers won’t add a corner or two for more competition, but it’s tough to see that happening prior to the late rounds, unless a tremendous value falls to Green Bay in a certain spot. Undrafted free agency is the more likely route for additions.
Safety depth isn’t as robust, but aside from Hyde, veteran special-teams leader Chris Banjo remains a reliable option behind the starters. Banjo played a fair amount of defensive snaps in the first six weeks of last season when Burnett missed time, and he performed well.
Sean Richardson has not been re-signed following a second neck injury last year at midseason, so the Packers are likely to add to their safety group at some point. But again, odds are it won’t happen in the early rounds.
View previous stories in the position-by-position breakdown QB: Drafting another not out of the questionRB: Future not entirely clear for PackersWR: Playoffs changed Packers' outlookOL: Future uncertainty looms