In Day 8 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, here is a look at the cornerbacks.
Packers depth chart
The Packers have one of the top cornerback corps in the league. Tramon Williams has gotten a lot of grief for his lack of physicality but is considered one of the better cover men in the league. Week after week, he lined up against the opponent’s No. 1 receiver and generally emerged victorious. Still, he’s never gotten close to his brilliant play during the stretch run to the Super Bowl season.
Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House give the Packers the ability to match up well with teams running four-receiver sets. Shields, who is tied for the Packers’ career lead in postseason interceptions with four, had three thefts this past season. Hayward had a brilliant rookie season with six interceptions as he filled the shoes of Charles Woodson in the slot. House just needs to stay healthy.
Packers draft outlook
You can never have enough good cornerbacks, and with Williams one of the oldest (30) and highest-paid ($8.5 million cap figure in 2013) players on the team, the Packers might need to look ahead and draft a corner relatively early. Williams’ contract expires after 2014, which perhaps elevates the need to draft a quality prospect. When examining the corner class, it’s vital to understand the Packers’ size preference. They don’t have a corner on the roster shorter than 5-foot-11. Plus, with the team’s renewed emphasis on tackling last season, the Packers probably have weighted their board toward corners who can defend the run and get the ball-carrier down.
Strength of draft class
This is a really good class, led by Alabama’s Dee Milliner, who has the size (6-0), speed (4.37) and resume to be the first corner off the board. There is plenty of depth, including several prospects able to contribute at safety as well as cornerback.
Bottom of the first (round)
Milliner, Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes – all of whom would be great choices for the Packers – figure to be off the board before the Packers are up at No. 26. The wild card is Houston’s D.J. Hayden, who nearly died on the practice field late in the season. He could be available at 26 or could push down Trufant or Rhodes. Either way, corner isn’t a pressing need – Williams’ future notwithstanding.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.