The Green Bay Packers have opened training camp in Green Bay. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the Packers as they begin preparation for the 2022 season.
Today we look at the cornerbacks. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here and for running backs, click here. The wide receivers can be found here and the tight ends here while the offensive line can be found here. The defensive line here, the outside linebackers here and inside linebackers here. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.
- Jaire Alexander
Alexander suffered a shoulder injury in Week 4 which ended his regular season. He was a Pro Bowl performer in 2020 and one of the league’s top cover corners.
A return to health and form by Alexander would give the Packers a big boost to a secondary that already played well last season.
The Louisville alum signed a big contract extension this offseason and will be the centerpiece of the Packers secondary for years to come.
- Rasul Douglas
Douglas was a feel-good story last year. The Packers signed him in October off the Cardinals practice squad and he ended up leading the team with five interceptions including a pair of pick-sixes.
Douglas does not have elite speed like Alexander or Eric Stokes, but he studies film extensively, is smart and anticipates well which puts him in position to make big plays.
The former West Virginia star had a career year last season and the Packers re-signed him to a multi-year contract. The Packers are hoping Douglas can continue to play at the same level in 2022 and beyond.
- Eric Stokes
The Packers first-round pick of 2021 was pressed into the starting lineup earlier than anticipated when Kevin King and then Alexander went down with injuries and Stokes stepped up and got the job done.
The Georgia product allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 49.5 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by him according to pro-football-reference.com.
If he can improve his ability to play the ball in the air, Stokes can be even better in 2022. His strong work ethic and willingness to improve make that a higher likelihood.
- Shemar Jean-Charles
Jean-Charles is entering his second season after playing only 37 snaps on defense in his rookie year. The former fifth-round pick was making a big jump from Appalachian State to the NFL and saw most of his action on special teams last season.
Jean-Charles will be fighting for more playing time on defense. If he can take a step forward this season, he could be in the battle for the fourth CB position.
- Keisean Nixon
Nixon was signed by the Packers this offseason primarily because of his work with Bisaccia on special teams. He played only 80 snaps on defense last year with the Raiders and needs to show he can be successful in coverage to earn more playing time.
Nixon is likely to make the roster because of his special teams play but if he can also contribute on defense, it makes his roster spot more secure and takes his career to another level.
- Kabion Ento
Ento is a converted wide receiver with great speed and potential. The key for him is to demonstrate he can tackle consistently so he can be relied upon on defense.
Ento is entering his fourth training camp with the Packers so it’s time for him to prove the team’s investment in him will pay off.
- Rico Gafford
Gafford was a college cornerback who was converted to wide receiver by the Raiders but has been moved back to corner after the Packers drafted three receivers in this year’s NFL Draft.
The former Wyoming star only made two catches in three seasons as a receiver with the Raiders. He has the speed to play at corner but must readjust to defense and show he is ready for a roster spot to make the team.
- Kiondre Thomas
Thomas spent last season on the Chargers practice squad and was elevated for four games where he saw action exclusively on special teams.
Thomas has 4.44 speed in the 40 and needs to show more of the form he had at Kansas State to make a run at a roster spot.
- Donte Vaughn
The Packers signed Vaughn on Tuesday of this week. The former Notre Dame star has good size at 6’2” and 211 pounds. He was an undrafted free agent who spent 2020 on the Chargers practice squad and is making a bid for a spot on the roster or on the practice squad in training camp this year.
Three Key Questions
- Who Will Cover the Slot Receiver?
Last year, the “star” position was manned by Chandon Sullivan who is now a Minnesota Viking. Joe Barry may rotate the star position between Stokes, Alexander, Douglas and safety Darnell Savage which would help keep opposing offenses guessing a bit.
Training camp will settle which player wins the star position and has primary responsibility for covering slot receivers.
- Will Stokes Make a Second-Year Jump
Eric Stokes exceeded expectations in his first NFL season and showed the potential to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player if he continues to make progress.
The biggest thing Stokes need to improve upon is his ability to track the ball in the air and make plays on the ball.
If Stokes continues to improve this season, the Packers could have the best top trio of cornerbacks in the league.
- Who Is Behind the Top Three?
We know Alexander, Douglas and Stokes are at the top of the depth chart but behind them are a lot of unproven players. Can Nixon be more than a special teamer? Is Jean-Charles ready for a bigger role? The Packers need another player or two to step forward and claim the fourth and fifth cornerback spots on this roster.
If injuries strike any of the top three, the rest of the corners on the roster will have to step up and be ready or the defense will have a weak link that could be costly.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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