The Green Bay Packers completely revamped their safety room this offseason. Gone are the top three safeties from last season, Darnell Savage, Rudy Ford, and Jonathan Owens. In their place, the Packers signed Xavier McKinney as a free agent and drafted three players including second round selection Javon Bullard. New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is already excited about the team’s new starting safety duo.

Packers Defensive Coordinator Jeff Hafley Is Excited About His New Safety Duo: Xavier McKinney

The Packers signed McKinney this offseason as a free agent. They believed he was the best free agent safety available. Although he’s played four NFL seasons with the New York Giants, McKinney will only turn 26 in August. He also has the skill set that Hafley was looking for to play his defense. That requires both safeties to play interchangeable roles between coverage and the box.

GM Brian Gutekunst signed McKinney to a four-year deal that averages $16.75 million per season. He was the biggest free agent-signing the team had since 2019.

Now, Hafley has been able to work with McKinney and he is already impressed by what he’s seen. During his press conference earlier this week, the new defensive coordinator explained why.

“It’s been so nice to have X,” Hafley told reporters. “What a pro. I mean, how hard he works. The communication, the way he’s in the meeting rooms, the way he looks out for the younger guys. I mean, that’s the stuff you don’t see. I mean, all this stuff I explained you in my first meeting, yeah, we think he can do all those things, and he’s shown that he can. But the coolest part about him is, and I told him this the other day, is you don’t find out really about somebody and who they are and how hard they work until they get here. And that’s been the thing that’s made probably us the happiest: great pro, great attitude, great effort.”

Rookie Javon Bullard

Hafley has also been pleased with what he’s seen from Bullard at the team’s rookie camp. The 21-year-old Georgia alum stands 5’11” and weighs 198 pounds. The Packers feel he will do a great job of complimenting McKinney in the new defense.

“Love the versatility,” Hafley added when asked about Bullard. “He’s a physical guy, he can run, he can cover, he can play deep, he can play in the slot, he can blitz. And he’s bigger when you see him. You guys, have you seen him yet? He’s thick [and] strong. And then the best part about it is, and I kind of said the same thing about X, is you don’t really know what you’re getting until you get in the meeting room with him. I mean, he’s a sharp guy. I mean, his ability to learn and process in those two days was impressive.”

Bullard’s football intelligence and versatility are two things that set him apart from many of the other safeties available in the early rounds of the draft. He also has extensive big game experience playing at Georgia, a team that has been competing for a national title during his time there. Bullard also has leadership qualities that the team values.

Packers Defensive Coordinator Jeff Hafley Is Excited About His New Safety Duo: The Outlook

The ability of both McKinney and Bullard to play multiple roles on the defense gives Hafley more options. The idea is to give quarterbacks and offensive play callers a split second of doubt because they won’t be sure which safety will drop into coverage and which one will play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Clearly, the new starting duo gives the Packers more athleticism, youth, and versatility than the previous group. It will allow Hafley to play his 4-3 defense which should be more aggressive than the one Joe Barry was running.

The Packers also have second-year man Anthony Johnson, Jr. and rookie draft picks Evan Williams and Kitan Oladapo will compete for playing time on special teams and as backups to give the team more depth.

Since the draft, the outlook for the Packers safety room has gone from one full of questions to one with a lot more potential for success. There are reasons for hope although we still have to see what this group does when they take the field in training camp.



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