11

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: S Deone Bucannon

 

Deone Bucanan

Safety Deone Bucannon (image courtesy of WSU Athletic Communications)

Packers prospect profile:  S  Deone Bucannon

Player Information:

Deone Bucannon,  S  Washington State, 6-1, 211 pounds Hometown: Fairfield, CA

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.49

Vertical jump: 36.5″

225 lb. bench: 19 reps

Broad jump: 10’04″

News and Notes:

First team All American and first team all PAC-12 in 2013. . .led PAC-12 in tackles in 2013. . .was a four-year starter and three-year captain in college. . .was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award (given to top college defensive back in the nation)

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Boasts an imposing build with broad shoulders and a thick, muscled-up top half. Best attribute may be his explosive hitting, unloading on runners and receivers crossing the middle and forcing fumbles. Doesn’t only rely on his big hits to create fumbles, also demonstrating the wherewithal to rip at the ball as he’s making the tackle. Also showed improved range and ball-skills in 2013, recording a career-high six interceptions in 2013 to give him 15 for his career. Has a high, choppy backpedal and is stiff in the hips, limiting his ability to change directions fluidly. Vulnerable to double-moves and ball-carriers with the agility to cutback against the grain. While a big-hitter, too often Bucannon will lunge at ball-carriers, occasionally resulting in some ugly whiffs. Struggles a bit with tunnel vision, focusing strictly on the ball-carrier and losing sight of would-be blockers, who take advantage of his lack of spatial awareness to seal him off from the play.
  • NFL.com:  Reads run and drops downhill quickly. Has an old-school mentality — likes contact and is a physical tackler. Covers kicks and has an ideal mentality for special teams. Average speed — struggles to recover from missteps and will not track anyone down from behind. Some tightness in his hips. Man-coverage limitations (struggles to match with slot receivers). Can be overaggressive and miss tackles. Does not always arrive under control in space. Misjudges angles.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • This is a highlight reel so don’t forget, it doesn’t show the plays he missed
  • Bucannon plays big, meaning his size is an asset and he  can deliver a blow
  • Gets after the football, both in the air and from the ball carrier.  Play making mentality
8

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: S Dezmen Southward

Dezman Southward

Safety Dezman Southward

Packers prospect profile: S  Dezmen Southward

Player Information:

Dezmen Southward,  S  Wisconsin, 6-0, 210 pounds,  Hometown: Sunrise, FL

STATS

Pro Day:

40 time: 4.35

Vertical jump: 42″

225 lb. bench: N/A

Broad jump: N/A

News and Notes:

Played in every game during his collegiate career, never missing one and starting the last 28 consecutive games of his college career. . . a Concensus Honorable Mention All Big 10 in 2013. . . was not allowed to participate in the NFL Combine when he was informed that a X-ray showed a hairline fracture in his neck at the C-5 level.  Curiously, who determined this is still unknown and several other doctors have cleared Southward, saying he should have been able to participate in the Combine.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • NFL.com:  Excellent size. Good straight-line speed. Bends his knees and pedals softly. Reacts well to plays in front of him. Played a hybrid safety role at UW, including defending slot receivers.  Played come cornerback. Special-teams experience.  Average flexibility and range. Still developing positional instincts and diagnostic skills. Man-coverage limitations — dull transitional quickness and closing burst. Ordinary production on the ball — not a playmaker. Does not punish or intimidate.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • There aren’t many highlight reels on Southward out there so I put up his Pro Day workout interview

If drafted by the Packers:

I wanted to mix it up a bit so I threw Southward in there following his impressive Pro Day at Wisconsin earlier this week.  CBS Sports has Southward listed as a strong safety and projects as a seventh round draft pick.  It’s very likely that Southward becomes an undrafted free agent and as Packers fans, we all know that he could be someone who piques general manager Ted Thompson’s interest.  I would hope that the Packers will have addressed the safety position by that time, but this could be another option to provide depth.  Southward has the measurable to play safety at the NFL level.  His workout results show quite a bit of athletic ability, although his strength is unknown.  He would likely not come in as starting safety material and would need to be developed by the Packers.  Nothing that I have seem screams “special” about him, but he does speak well and seems to be on the more intelligent side.  He could contribute on special teams and if nothing else, would be a better option than M.D. Jennings (not saying much).

6

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: S Calvin Pryor, Louisville

Calvin Pryor

Safety Calvin Pryor

Packers prospect profile: S  Calvin Pryor

Player Information:

Calvin Pryor,  S  Louisville, 5-11, 207 pounds Hometown: Port St. Joe, FL

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.58

Vertical jump: 34.5″

225 lb. bench: 18 reps

Broad jump: 9’08″

 

News and Notes:

First team all AAC selection in 2013. . .did miss one game due to a suspension for violation of an unspecified team rule. . 75 tackles last season . . . 2012 Pryor logged over 100 tackles and forced five fumbles while starting 13 games. . .also played running back in high school.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Prototype body type with good anticipation and explosive closing speed. Reliable open-field tackler and intimidating presence. Lowers his shoulder on impact to create collisions in run support and when protecting the middle of the field in coverage. Good vision and spatial awareness to slip amongst the mass of humanity near the line of scrimmage to locate the ball. Shows no desire for self-preservation when taking on blockers, dropping to take them out at the knees and often is able to take out the ballcarrier. Very good ball skills. Can extend and pluck outside of his frame and shows excellent awareness to get his feet inbounds. Almost too physical in an era in which heavy hitters often draw penalty flags. Drops his shoulder into defenders but some of his hits could be interpreted as leading with the crown of his helmet. Wasn’t asked to cover slot receivers in Louisville’s scheme. A bit stiff when changing direction, allowing some separation by receivers, especially on double-moves.
  • NFL.com:  Very good instincts. Physical, lights-out hitter. Very aggressive running the alley and seeks to make his presence felt in the run game. Sacrifices his body. Defensive tempo-setter. Good pre-snap recognition — makes adjustments. Explosive tackler. Can leverage the field off the hash and cover ground. Good zone recognition. Rangy enough to play center field. Carries a swagger and plays with confidence. Plays with too much reckless abandon and lacks discipline playing the cutback. Takes some bad angles and can be outflanked to the perimeter. Average production on the ball. Not asked to play a lot of man coverage.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • This is a highlight reel so don’t forget, it doesn’t show the plays he missed
6

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: S Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix

Packers prospect profile: S  Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix

Player Information:

Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix,  S  Alabama, 6-1, 208 pounds Hometown: Orlando, FL

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.58

Vertical jump: 33″

225 lb. bench: 11 reps

Broad jump: 9’11″

 

News and Notes:

Second team All-American and first team all-SEC selection in 2013. . .had surgery for a torn meniscus this past December. . .did miss two games due to a suspension for accepting money from an assistant coach. . . 2012 Dix tied for most interceptions in SEC with five. . played in all 14 games that season.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “Possesses a lanky, athletic build with light feet, excellent fluidity and straight-line speed to handle deep and nickel coverage responsibilities. Good awareness. Tracks the action well, showing impressive key and diagnosis skills to get a jump on the ball or when attacking the line of scrimmage in run support. Decisive. When he sees the play developing,  doesn’t waste time debating, instead exploding towards the ball, showing explosive closing ability.  Very good ball-skills. Can climb the ladder and extend outside of his frame to pluck the ball. Physical defender, who looks to deliver the intimidating shot. Highly aggressive and therefore will occasionally be fooled by misdirection and play-action. Barrels towards the line of scrimmage and leaving cut-back lanes for nifty athletes to exploit. Lowers his shoulder to lay the intimidating hit on ball-carriers and fails to wrap up, at times, relying the collision to knock the opponent to the ground.
  • NFL.com:  Quick to read and react. Has speed and flexibility to match up with slot receivers or tight ends. Ranges off the hash. Good hands to intercept. Effective run supporter — drops downhill with conviction and does not shy from contact. Takes direct angles to the ball. Secure tackler. Has special-teams experience. Well-coached in a pro-style defense. Has a narrow build and lacks ideal bulk. Could stand to get stronger. Occasionally gets stuck on blocks. Could stand to iron out his pedal. Does not always play with abandon — plays conservatively at times and can be late fitting in the run game or getting off the hash. Average ball production and playmaking ability. Not as natural in the box.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Sorry for the background music and this is NSFW
29

September

Could the Packers go with Burnett and Banjo at safety?

Chris Banjo's playing time is on the rise, while Jerron McMillian's is declining. Could the Packers pair Banjo with a healthy Morgan Burnett?

Chris Banjo’s playing time is on the rise, while Jerron McMillian’s is declining. Could the Packers pair Banjo with a healthy Morgan Burnett?

Following the Packers’ week two win over Washington, defensive coordinator Dom Capers hinted at a bigger role for undrafted rookie Chris Banjo.

“You could see more and more of Chris Banjo,” Capers said, per Ty Dunne. “I thought he did well. He had one missed tackle one of those long runs, but other than that, I thought he did a nice job. He’s been a physical guy for us there through the preseason.”

And see more and more of Banjo, we did. Banjo was on the field for 54 of 56 snaps last week against the Bengals–more than M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian, according to Pro Football Focus.

Banjo’s snap count could very well go down once starter Morgan Burnett returns to the lineup. But from a physical standpoint, pairing Banjo with Burnett may give the Packers their most talented duo on the back end.

If the Packers could pull the best attributes from Jennings and McMillian, they’d have a top-notch player alongside Burnett. But Jennings (6-0 187) is limited as a run defender, and McMillian struggles in coverage.

Banjo, despite only playing 87 snaps on the season, may be the most complete player of the trio.

Jennings is coming off one of his best games as a professional at Cincinnati. He ranks 25th among 8o safeties who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s defensive snaps, per PFF. McMillian had an impressive pass deflection against the Bengals, but his playing time has decreased dramatically since week one.

McMillian played all 81 snaps in the season opener at San Francisco but was on the field for just 14 plays two weeks later at Cincinnati.

After quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, Burnett may be the Packers’ toughest player to replace. Burnett isn’t Nick Collins at this point of his career, but there’s a sizable talent gap at safety behind Burnett.

If the trend continues, McMillian could be demoted to Banjo’s role to start the season, which was primarily on special teams. Jennings, barring injury, will continue to see the field in some capacity, while Banjo’s role when Burnett returns remains up in the air.

21

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #4 — McMillian vs. Jennings

M.D. Jennings will battle Jerron McMillian for a starting spot. Who will win the job?

M.D. Jennings will battle Jerron McMillian for a starting spot. Who will win the job?

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.

21

May

Packers News: Charles Woodson signs with Raiders

Former Packers DB Charles Woodson

Former Packers DB Charles Woodson

After another lengthy stint on the free-agent market, former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson has signed a one-year contract to return to the Oakland Raiders, according to the team’s official Twitter account.

Woodson was the No. 4 overall pick to the Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played eight years with Oakland but had no serious suitors when he became a free agent in 2005.

Late in the free-agent process, Woodson signed a seven-year contract to play in Green Bay where he would go on to play seven seasons. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and was a four-time All-Pro selection during his seven years with the Packers.

Versatility and instincts made Woodson a turnover machine at the peak of his career. His post-game speech, in which he urged the team to have “one mind, one goal, one purpose and one heart” after defeating the Chicago Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, is referenced on the team’s rings for Super Bowl XLV.

After originally suggesting he only wanted to play for a Super Bowl contendor, Woodson changed his tune as he remained unsigned. The Raiders won  But now Woodson, 36, will return to Oakland to help shore up a secondary that allowed the fifth-most points in the NFL last season.

The Packers, meanwhile, will turn to Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings to fill Woodson’s shoes safety. Both players saw time with the first-team defense Tuesday at the Packers first public OTA of the 2013 season.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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