Packers safety Morgan Burnett just signed a four-year extension that will keep him in Green Bay for the foreseeable future. But the starting spot alongside Burnett remains very much up for grabs.
Jerron McMillian, a fourth-round pick in 2012, will compete with M.D. Jennings to be the starter, replacing Charles Woodson who is now with the Oakland Raiders. The Packers got a glimpse of life after Woodson when the veteran broke his collarbone against the St. Louis Rams last season.
Between the two, the Packers have a physical run defender in McMillian and a rangy cover man in Jennings. Combining the duo’s best attributes would be a recipe for a talented safety, but unfortunately for the team, only one of the two can be on the field in most situations.
Last season, Jennings was the direct victim of Lance Easley’s infamous touchdown call against the Seattle Seahawks. And for that exact reason, many football fans across the country now recognize his name.
But as proven by his 72-yard pick-six against the Detroit Lions, Jennings is capable of being a turnover producer on the back end.
McMillian, on the other hand, excels as a run defender. Despite weighing just over 200 pounds, McMillian isn’t afraid to take on a pulling 300-pound lineman head on. If McMillian can show significant improvement tracking the football in the air, the job may be his to lose, simply because of his undeniable physical advantage over Jennings.
At last year’s NFL Scouting Combine, McMillian clocked a 4.47 40-yard dash and posted a 36.5″ vertical leap at 203 pounds. Jennings is on the smallish side for a safety, tipping the scales at just 187.
Jennings played two more snaps (616) than McMillian (614) last season. And without Woodson in the fold, more playing time will be up for grabs in the secondary.
Question: Who will be the starter alongside Morgan Burnett? McMillian or Jennings?
This, along with running back and right tackle, will be one of the more compelling training-camp battles. McMillian has the edge physically, but Jennings has shown more polishas a pass defender. The competition will likely come down to who shows more improvement: Jennings as a run defender or McMillian in pass coverage.