Coming into the draft Green Bay has a few key holes to fill, not only for 2021, but 2022 and beyond as well. Although an extension for Davante Adams is expected before training camp, Green Bay currently has zero wide receivers on the roster in 2022 (Allen Lazard will be a restricted free agent).
Green Bay also has potential holes on the offensive line as All-Pro center Corey Linsley joined former Packer Bryan Bulaga in the beautiful Los Angeles sun, and future Hall of Famer David Bakhtiari will likely start the season on the PUP list as he recovers from an ACL tear. Adding talent to the interior of the defensive line has been a constant need since injuries forced Green Bay to cut bait with Mike Daniels two years ago. Despite this, the Packers biggest current need is undoubtedly cornerback.
That is why our Corporate Overlord, Evan Western selected cornerback Greg Newsome from Northwestern.
Here’s the explanation of the pick from Acme Packing Company managing editor Evan “Tex” Western:
The Packers decided to effectively run back the 2020 roster (sans Corey Linsley) for one more shot at a Super Bowl after back-to-back NFC Championship losses. One of the decisions they made was to re-sign cornerback Kevin King to a one-year deal, which is largely seen as a bridge to a cornerback of the future. In Newsome, the Packers find that corner.
Green Bay has a type when it comes to cornerbacks, and the 20-year-old Newsome checks all of their boxes - good size, good speed, and excellent agility. The Packers also seem to like Big Ten defenders, drafting at least one in 8 of the last 9 drafts. Furthermore, Joe Barry’s hiring as DC suggests that the Packers will continue playing more zone coverage, which would make Newsome’s transition from a zone-heavy scheme a bit easier. Based on how the board fell, with many corners, receivers, and lineman already gone, this actually feels like one of the easier decisions APC has made in this exercise in recent years.
Tex hits the key points on Newsome pretty well, but I think it’s important to note just how terrible Kevin King was last year. If you want the full story, you can find my rationale for disliking the re-signing of King here. In short, King’s only season where he wasn’t bad came in 2019 when he had an unsustainable number of red zone interceptions. Even in his best season, his PFF grade was only 62.5. If you take out that unsustainable 2019, he has never ranked better than 88th in PFF coverage grade. King does not make up for that with his tackling either, which has been horrendous, partially due to a shoulder injury he sustained several years ago.
Newsome will hopefully relegate King to reserve status quickly. Not only is Newsome a legitimate plus-plus athlete (9.66 Relative Athletic Score), but his preferred coverage style is a perfect match for not only Green Bay’s scheme, but his fellow boundary corner Jaire Alexander. A major issue for Green Bay is that Kevin King was abysmal in zone coverage, while Alexander was perhaps the best zone corner in the NFL. With Newsome, Green Bay will have cornerbacks whose skillsets can work within the same play call, rather than having to make choices about which player they want to favor.
In addition to need, the organization also places a high value on the position. Green Bay has shown a strong propensity for drafting defensive backs early for decades, which is an important consideration given that Green Bay has had branches from the same front office tree in charge since Ron Wolf arrived.
Wolf arrived in 1991, and in the twenty-nine drafts since his arrival, Green Bay has selected a defensive back in the first round ten times and in the second round nine times. (Kevin King was selected with Green Bay’s first pick in 2017, which was the first pick in the second round). Since Brian Gutekunst first became director of college scouting in 2012, the Packers have used eight of their nineteen top 64 picks on defensive backs, and since Gutekunst became general manager in 2018, they’ve used three of their seven top 64 picks on defensive backs.
The combination of need, the organization’s value of defensive backs, and Newsome’s ability to hit the targets Green Bay looks for in corners make Newsome is the obvious pick here.
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