Before you double over in laughter, this is actually what the Green Bay Packers are proposing. The Packers moved cornerback and former first-round pick Damarious Randall to the slot this offseason.
They feel it’s a better fit for his skill set and they are indeed comparing him to Charles Woodson. Not in the all-time great respect, but in relation to his role.
If you recall Woodson’s time with the Packers, they often lined him up in the slot. Not only was he great in coverage, but he was great against the run and a solid blitzer. Micah Hyde admirably filled the same role during his time in Green Bay, although not quite as successfully as Woodson did.
That’s what the Packers are expecting from Randall this season.
Why It Might Work
You’ll likely recall that Randall was a safety when the Packers drafted him out of Arizona State. Thus, he’s used to being in the middle of the field. Although he was resistant to doing so last year, that SHOULD also suggest that Randall can tackle a running back.
From a coverage perspective, there’s a lot to like. Randall is fluid, turns his hips well and his biggest strength might be making plays on the football.
This will give Randall an opportunity to make more plays. He just needs to take advantage of those opportunities.
Perhaps most importantly, Randall will not be covering No. 1 receivers in the slot. That should automatically improve his lot from 2016.
Why It Might Not Work
First, Randall is slightly smaller than both Woodson and Hyde. We’re going to throw that out, however. It’s not a huge difference.
The biggest reason we could see this failing is a lack of physicality. Both Woodson and Hyde would put their hands on you. They were physical. They jammed receivers at the line. They were willing (and solid) tacklers.
Damarious Randall is none of those things, at least based on the sample we’ve seen lately.
Randall will need to raise his game in these other areas to truly be successful in this new role.
What Are the Packers’ Other Options?
As a former first-round pick, Randall is going to get every chance to succeed. If he proves incapable, we have no doubt the Packers will give someone else a chance, though.
First on that list has to be Quinten Rollins, who is in the same position as Randall. He’s coming off a bad season, but was a high draft pick (second round).
Right now, Rollins looks no better than the Packers’ sixth cornerback. To get on the field on a regular basis, he’ll likely need Randall to fail or someone to get injured.
There are options beyond that, as well.
The first guy I would look to is LaDarius Gunter. If the Packers can trust rookie Kevin King and veteran Davon House on the outside, then Gunter could potentially move inside. While he lacks speed, there isn’t a more physical cornerback on the Packers’ roster.
Finally, I would look to rookie safety Josh Jones. Everyone seems to have him pegged for a hybrid inside linebacker role. However, he did play some cornerback in college. He has the athleticism and the physicality to fill the Woodson role.
In fact, of all the possibilities, Jones would seem to best fit that role.
Randall, of course, will still get the first shot at it.