Offseason Progress Report: Cornerbacks

Sam Shields (Getty Images)

On paper, this is an incredibly good group with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House, plus some Micah Hyde and a draft pick invested in Demetri Goodson.

With four weeks of offseason practices behind them, Packer Report is taking a position-by-position look at the Green Bay Packers, continuing with the cornerbacks.

Depth chart

NO.PLAYERPOSHTWTAGEEXPSCHOOL
24 Bush, Jarrett CB 6-0 200 30 9 Utah State
35 Dennard, Antonio CB 5-11 189 24 1 Langston
39 Goodson, Demetri CB 5-11 197 25 R Baylor
29 Hayward, Casey CB 5-11 192 24 3 Vanderbilt
31 House, Davon CB 6-0 195 24 4 New Mexico State
33 Hyde, Micah CB 6-0 197 23 2 Iowa
20 Rolle, Jumal CB 6-0 188 24 1 Catawba
37 Shields, Sam CB 5-11 184 26 5 Miami (Fla.)
43 White, Ryan CB 5-10 197 22 R Auburn
38 Williams, Tramon CB 5-11 191 31 8 Louisiana Tech

The answer

The answers are everywhere.

Tramon Williams returned to his championship form of 2010 during the second half of the season. After a 23-game streak without an interception, he picked off passes in four of the final eight games, including a big one in the playoff loss to San Francisco. Not only did he make plays on the ball, but he tackled better than he has at any point in his career.

In the most important transaction of the offseason, Sam Shields was shown the money in free agency. He intercepted four passes, including his memorable pick at Dallas that helped the Packers cap a furious, season-saving comeback. Taking the next step in his career, he won individual matchups against the likes of A.J. Green, Torrey Smith, Josh Gordon and Calvin Johnson.

"The biggest challenge to me for any individual in the National Football League is handling success so, you see a new contract, that's a level of success you have to be able to accept (and) handle, and you have bigger responsibility," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Frankly, when you say earns the opportunity, you have confidence that he'll handle that success, I do. I'm not concerned about it. I think he'll handle himself and clearly understands the level of success that he's (had), the step that he's taken but, frankly, we all know there's so much more out there that we want to accomplish."

Casey Hayward is back after missing most of last season with an ongoing hamstring injury. Not only did he intercept six passes in 2012, but he didn't allow a touchdown and finished second in the league in completion percentage allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

The depth is so good that Micah Hyde was moved to safety, though he figures to be one of the slot corners in the dime defense. Moreover, barring injuries, Davon House will have a hard time getting on the field and sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson will have a hard time making the team.

The question

The production hasn't matched the potential consistently enough from this group. Can they finally put it all together? Can Williams play at age 31 like he did during his final eight games of age 30? Can Shields stay healthy and consistently play like he's the type of cornerback he's paid to be? Can Hayward play like he did in 2012 after basically missing a season? Can the group return to its playmaking ways? After averaging 13 interceptions from 2009 to 2012, they had just nine last year. That's a good number but not good enough considering takeaways are the life blood of this defense.

"In my opinion, we have to be a top group," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "We have to be able to make splash plays and get the ball when the ball is needed. When we need an interception or when we need a third-down stop, we have to make those stops consistently. We did some of that late in the year with Tramon and Sam's play in Dallas. (Jarrett Bush's) play in Atlanta. We made some of those plays. We have to make them more consistently. We've had opportunities to make them in that last game and we didn't make that. That's our focus right now is when a game-winning play is on the line and we're there to make it, we need to make it. That's where our focus is."

Roster prediction

Williams, Shields, Hayward, Hyde (also at safety), House, Bush and Goodson.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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