Detroit Lions, NFC North positional preview: Cornerback
Green Bay Packers
Key returning players: Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin King, Tramon Williams, Tony Brown
New additions: Ka’dar Hollman (R)
Key losses: Bashaud Breeland
Unlike the rest of their divisional rivals, the Green Bay Packers’ top two cornerbacks may be very young players with limited experience heading into 2019. That may not be such a bad thing, as Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson showed promise as rookies in 2018.
Alexander in particular played well in spurts after being drafted in the first round in 2018. He started 11 games last season, and the Packers will be looking for him to take the reins and lead the group going forward. Expectations are high for the athletic former Cardinal, and he will be looked upon to help the Packers increase their total of seven interceptions from last year, which was tied for second from the bottom in the league.
Jackson, chosen in the second round in last year’s draft, appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, and will see increased role in year two. He showed flashes of some big play ability, recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2.
He is still relatively new to the position though, after switching positions from receiver while at Iowa. This developmental process showed up frequently in 2018; Jackson needs cut down on his eight penalties from last season.
Kevin King, the former second round selection form 2017, has struggled with injuries in his two years at cornerback with the Packers, appearing in just 15 total games. Shoulder problems have landed him on injured reserve to end both of his seasons.
King’s health problems will necessitate the rapid development of both Alexander and Jackson. He could also see competition from undrafted free agent Tony Brown, who didn’t look out of place as a rookie in 2018.
After Bashaud Breeland signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in March, the lone veteran of note in the unit is Tramon Williams, who started all 16 games in his return to Green Bay last season. The 36-year old isn’t much of a playmaker these days, but he remains an important voice and presence in a room with so many young players.
The Packers’ young cornerbacks will be tested repeatedly by the talented passing attacks on their 2019 schedule. Should the learning curve prove too steep too early, they could be facing an uphill climb in the NFC North once again.