General manager Ted Thompson responded by using his first six draft choices on defensive players.
Safety Charlie Peprah, however, isn't about to hand over his starting position without a fight.
"As far as I'm concerned, I plan on (starting in 2012) just because that's the way I view myself and my abilities," Peprah said before departing on the Packers' annual Tailgate Tour on Tuesday morning.
With the release of three-time Pro Bowler Nick Collins, Peprah and Morgan Burnett enter the offseason as the Packers' starting safeties. Peprah, who started 11 games in place of an injured Burnett in 2010 and 14 games in place of Collins in 2011, faces numerous challengers.
One could come from fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian, an FCS All-American and three-year starter at Maine who was the most explosive athlete among the safeties in this year's draft with top finishes in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump at the Scouting Combine.
Other challenges could come from holdovers Anthony Levine and M.D. Jennings, as well as undrafted rookie Sean Richardson. And while nothing's brewing now, Thompson could seek veteran help in training camp.
"If you forget, in 2010, after Morgan went down, they traded for Anthony Smith," Peprah said. "To me, that said, ‘OK, maybe they don't have any confidence in me.' That's the league."
In 2011, when Peprah had 96 tackles, five interceptions and 14 passes defensed, he was the 49th-ranked safety among the 61 safeties who played at least 50 percent of his team's defensive snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com's film study. The interception and tackle numbers are better than in 2010, when Peprah had 64 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed, but he finished as PFF's 31st-ranked safety during the Super Bowl season.
To be sure, the Packers' woeful pass rush and erratic cornerback play had a role in Peprah's up-and-down play. Still, the numbers beyond sheer interceptions and tackles tell the story.
In 2011, Peprah gave up the ninth-most yards after the catch with 173, allowed the 15th-highest completion percentage at 66.7 and yielded the third-most receiving yards with 465. He had five interceptions, was responsible for five touchdowns and allowed a passer rating of 82.2. Of his 10 missed tackles, eight came in run support. That gave him PFF's 46th-ranked tackle efficiency in the run game, a figure based on missed tackles per tackling attempt.
In 2010, Peprah gave up the 43rd-most yards after the catch with 92, allowed the 32nd-highest completion percentage at 60.5 and yielded the 25th-most receiving yards with 308. He had two interceptions, was responsible for one touchdown and allowed a passer rating of 73.1. Of his nine missed tackles, only three came in run support. That gave him PFF's 21st ranked tackle efficiency vs. the run.
In Peprah's case, the tackling problems weren't so much a matter of poor fundamentals — Hakeem Nicks' touchdown against a pinballing Peprah in the playoff game notwithstanding — but a matter of a lack of athletic ability. A step slower than most safeties, Peprah sometimes has a difficult time getting himself into the right position.
"We've got to eliminate the big plays," safeties coach Darren Perry said at the draft, speaking for his position group as a whole. "We had some good plays, but we had too many negative plays, and that's the thing that's frustrating as a coach. Our consistency in all aspects — tackling, communication, eliminating the big plays, our technique — we have to be more consistent in that area because there's some really good shots of how it's supposed to look, and then there's some really bad shots of what it's not supposed to look like.
"We've got a big challenges ahead of us, and our biggest challenge is to be consistent and eliminate big plays — too many big plays, way too many — and coach Dom (Capers) has been on it and we've all looked at it. This offseason has been tough, when you look at some of the things that happened to us defensively, it's very frustrating because we know we can eliminate it. We just have to, and a big part of that will be consistency."
To be part of the solution, Peprah will be in for the fight of his football life.
It's a challenge he's eager to tackle.
"They're always looking to replace you, coaches and players and staff alike," Peprah said. "None of that stuff, you can't let it get to you. You just keep believing in yourself, keep pushing, keep working, and the rest will take care of itself."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.