The Green Bay Packers had the 31st-ranked passing defense in 2016. Their remedy for that was to draft cornerback Kevin King with their top pick and bring back veteran free agent Davon House.
The team also, inexplicably, released LaDarius Gunter, who finished 2016 as the team’s No. 1 corner. So how did those changes ultimately work out in 2017?
Not real well.
House was beat up for much of the season. King initially tried to play through a lingering shoulder injury and was eventually shut down for the season. After a slow start and a benching, former first-round pick Damarious Randall eventually came on. However, he appears to be the only sure thing when looking at the 2018 group. House will be a free agent. Also coming back from injury is former second-round pick Quinten Rollins, who looked horrible before getting injured.
Once again, it appears to be a group in flux. Throw out the injuries for a second. This was a group that just wasn’t good in 2017.
According to Next Gen Stats Packers’ corners allowed the worst passer rating (106.2) in the NFL when they were the nearest defender.
It gets better (or worse, actually). According to Football Outsiders, the Packers were the worst in the league at covering No. 1 receivers. They were 26th at covering No. 2 receivers.
It’s clear the Packers need to add an impact cornerback this offseason. Two guys on the free agent market that would fit the bill are the Patriots Malcolm Butler and the Rams Trumaine Johnson. Neither is going to come cheap, however. And it remains to be seen what flexibility general manager Brian Gutekunst will have now that both he and director of football operations (and holder of the pursestrings) Russ Ball report to president Mark Murphy.
I could absolutely see a scenario where Gutekunst wanted to pursue a guy and Ball thought he was too pricey. Then who makes the decision? The other money guy in the group, Mark Murphy, who has never been part of the football operations.
That said, barring injuries, the Packers may finally have a decent cornerback group with Randall, King and a player to be determined.