When coach McCarthy addressed the media last week, he made it clear that getting bigger and faster was a top priority. Now that the draft is in the books, the Packers have several big guys with speed that could be mode effective against tight ends, RB’s out of the backfield but can track and run in the screen game as well.
With the combination of depth and veteran leadership at the cornerback position, the perimeter group and nickel positions should sort themselves out. But there are three big guys that I will have my eye on that could be key on third downs.
1. Oren Burks
Inside linebacker Oren Burks is a guy who may get on the field sooner rather than later because of his coverage ability. With Joe Thomas gone, teams will surely try to create mismatches with the linebackers. Burks’ athleticism is off the charts and while it is to be expected that he takes time to develop…stranger things have happened. Blake Martinez improved in coverage last year but it is still not his strongest suit. I will be interested to see if they can find a better third down option.
2. Josh Jones
Josh Jones was sketchy at times but also flashed his length and speed. The Packers need Jones to take the second year leap and learn Pettine’s defense like the back of his hand so he can play even faster. As hard as it is to say…it seems Morgan Burnett was part of the fallout of this movement toward faster players. If so, the Packers must have big plans for Jones. Last year’s “Big Nickel” will likely show up in some form or fashion and how Jones (as a true DB as opposed to Burks) should factor in…heavily. Mike Pettine’s ability to teach and the “learnable loveability” of the scheme should help. Jones has all the tools, now it is time to put it all together.
3. Reggie Gilbert
When coach McCarthy did his rookie orientation press conference…he had high praise for non-rookie Reggie Gilbert, saying that he joked with Gilbert that if he kept flying around like that, he would make him a tight end. Gilbert, while not overly fast, is one of those guys who has taken advantage of the tools available to him as a Packer and seems to be primed to show he has what it takes to be a pass-rushing OLB but if that is the case, teams will certainly try to pull him off rush and force him into coverage responsibilities. That test will really show if he is ready to take more reps in game situations for the Packers. I have my eye on Reggie Gilbert and honestly, I am pulling for him. The Packers need another pass-rusher and while I am in Vince Biegel’s corner too…I think Gilbert has the best chance to make an impact this year.
Well, there are a few big guys that I think could have an impact in pass coverage. Who do you have your eye on? Which draftees have you excited for the 2018 season? Let us know in the comments below or back on the Facebook Fanpage.