Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY

Quinten Rollins Provides Dynamic Rookie Duo for Packers

Quinten Rollins' strong performance against Oakland on Sunday was just the continuation of a promising season for the second-round cornerback.

The Green Bay Packers used their first two draft picks on cornerbacks.

Their first-round pick, Damarious Randall, was a former baseball player who played safety at Arizona State. Their second-round pick, Quinten Rollins, was a standout basketball player at Miami (Ohio) before playing one excellent season for the football team.

The early returns are the Packers have successfully handled a major transition in personnel. This past offseason, Tramon Williams and Davon House left in free agency. At the end of this season, Casey Hayward could follow them out the door.

Randall’s had an excellent rookie season — his rocky performance on Sunday vs. Oakland notwithstanding. Rollins has had his turn in the spotlight the last two weeks with Sam Shields out with a concussion. Against the Raiders, Rollins broke up two passes intended for veteran Michael Crabtree, including a brilliant, leaping deflection in the back of the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.

“It gave me an opportunity to come in and do my job, honestly. That’s how I look at it,” Rollins said on Monday when asked if the extended playing time has helped his confidence. “I prepare the same way every week, so it hasn’t really altered much as far as my confidence because I expect to play at a high level. It’s been fun, and then we got the win on top of it.”

According to Pro Football Focus, 13 rookie cornerbacks have played at least 25 percent of the defensive passing plays. According to PFF’s best guess at coverage responsibilities, Rollins ranks first in that group by having yielded a 54.1 passer rating. Kansas City’s Marcus Peters is a distant second at 72.6. He’s one of two of those rookie corners to have not allowed a touchdown pass and ranks fourth with a 54.3 percent completion rate.

“He has a bright future,” safety Morgan Burnett said. “I give him a lot of credit and respect. He’s only been playing the position for two years. Now you’re going against great athletes and great receivers and you’re doing a good job at it, that’s much respect to him. He’s going to keep improving. He kind of reminds me of Sam Shields. Those guys are very athletic and he’s going to keep making plays.”

Off the field, Burnett liked Rollins’ quiet, professional approach. Even with just one year of college experience, Rollins has picked up the scheme so quickly that he’s learned cornerback, nickel and dime.

On the field, Rollins played well enough to be the man to replace Shields in the base defense rather than Hayward or second-year player Demetri Goodson. That’s allowed Hayward to stay in the slot, where he’s been excellent and put himself in position for a big payday.

“The more you can do — I always tell these guys the more you can do,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “So, you want to try to become as proficient at a number of different positions because as we go through the course of a game you’re going to be playing a number of different positions if you get a guy nicked. We didn’t have Sam yesterday and I thought Rollins played well for us. You saw him get his hands on a number of balls. A couple of them I know he’d liked to have back because I think he would have turned them into interceptions.”

As for Randall, he had his first poor performance against the Raiders. After an early pick-six put the Packers in command 14-0, he gave up six catches for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns to fellow rookie Amari Cooper. Based on PFF’s numbers, Randall ranks sixth among the 13 aforementioned rookies in passer rating (80.7), third in completion percentage (54.1) and second in interceptions (three).

“Cooper’s a top young talent now in this league,” Capers said. “You watch the big-play tape going into that Raider game, it’ll catch your eye in a hurry. There’s times that you’ve got to be able to not leave a guy out there on the island. Randall made some nice plays, obviously, and then there were a couple that he’ll learn from from a technique standpoint. You’ve got to be really ‘on’ technique-wise when you’re going against a receiver like that.”

Bill Huber is publisher of and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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