Pick-Six At Nickel Cornerback

The Packers need to draft a cornerback — more accurately, they need to draft a physical, nickel cornerback to eventually replace the incomparable Charles Woodson. Here are six players who will be in play, according to our scouts and sources.

You can't have enough cornerbacks.

The position isn't a dire need for the Green Bay Packers, but with Charles Woodson set to turn 35 two days before the Week 5 game at Atlanta, the position is a fairly obvious need.

Presumably, general manager Ted Thompson has a few specific players in mind. Flanking Woodson in the Packers' nickel package are starter Tramon Williams and third corner Sam Shields. Neither seem cut out for that physical, run-stopping, receiver-covering, nickel role that Woodson has handled in stunning fashion during Dom Capers' two seasons as defensive coordinator.

Thus, the player Thompson has in mind must not only be able to cover but drop a running back at the line of scrimmage. Here are five players to consider:

Aaron Williams, Texas: Williams (6-0), a three-year standout for the Longhorns, started nine games in the slot during his career. Like Woodson, Williams relishes stepping up to make a play in the run game. He ranked third in the Big 12 by forcing three fumbles in 2010 and forced six during his career. Scouts worry about Williams' speed (4.62 in the 40) but that might not be as big of a factor for the Packers. The question is, would they use a first-round pick on a player who would play about 60 percent of the defensive snaps?

Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling (6-1) might have been a first-round draft pick had his senior season not been ruined by injuries (hamstring, knee sprain, broken ankle). When healthy, he's one of the better cover guys in the draft. Against the run, he consistently fights through blocks and is probably the biggest hitter of the cornerback group. If he's around in the second round, the Packers would give him closer consideration.


South Carolina's Culliver
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Chris Culliver, South Carolina: Culliver played receiver as a freshman, started at safety as a sophomore and junior, and moved to cornerback as a senior, though his final year was cut short by a torn pectoral. At 6-foot, Culliver has the size the Packers desire, and he can run (4.36 40). He's an aggressive defender who doesn't shy away from contact. He's getting no love from the media draft "experts" but several sources told us that he's a possibility in the third round and the Packers have shown late interest. As an added bonus, Culliver is one of the leading kickoff returners in SEC history.

Cortez Allen, The Citadel: Allen (6-foot-1) has ideal size, given Thompson's draft history. He dominated FCS competition, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 35.0 percent of their passes with three touchdowns during his three seasons as a starter. His history is as a bump-and-run corner, but scouts love his football intelligence, awareness and plant-and-drive ability that would make him right at home in the Packers' zone scheme. He's not a big hitter but he has a knack for beating blocks. A source called him the "most underrated" corner in the draft. He could be a target with one of the Packers' two fourth-round picks, and the Packers have also shown late interest, according to another source.

Chykie Brown, Texas: Brown (5-11) was the most aggressive of Texas' three draft-worthy cornerbacks. Despite starting just 23 games during his four years, Texas used him in a Woodson-like role on occasion, with four sacks and nine tackles for losses in his career. Additionally, three quarterback pressures resulted in interceptions. Brown, who worked out for the Packers, relishes playing the run. He'd be a target in the fourth or fifth round.

Korey Lindsey, Southern Illinois: As we were the first to report, the Packers brought in Lindsey (5-foot-10 1/2) last week. Another FCS-level player, Lindsey was flat-out dominant. He posted six interceptions as a sophomore and six more as a junior. As a senior, he had just one pick but allowed a mere eight completions for the season. Opposing quarterbacks averaged 0.87 yards per pass attempt against him — the best rate in the nation last year. He's not the biggest guy but he plays with no fear in the run game and is a good tackler. He could be in play in the fifth round.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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