Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY

Green Bay Packers Roster Battles: Defense

Heated battles are set at cornerback and defensive line, while someone must step up at outside linebacker.

The Green Bay Packers have set their 90-man roster. Here is a look at the upcoming battles on offense.

DEFENSIVE LINE: 9

There might not be a better battle this summer than on the defensive line. Daniels and Clark figure to be the starters in the nickel package, and Lowry (based on improved play during his rookie season) and Adams (based on being a third-round draft pick) should make the roster, as well. Will Guion’s four-game, season-opening suspension cost him a roster spot? The deck seems stacked against him, since the defense is essentially playing 11-on-10 on passing plays when Guion is on the field. Veteran Jean Francois played well last season for Washington, and Price and Ringo served stints on the roster last year. The undrafted Lunsford has a nice blend of athleticism (5.13 in the 40) and strength (28 reps on the bench). Though he started only as a senior, he ranked among the top run-stopping defensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
94 Lowry, Dean DE 6-6 296 22 2 Northwestern
90 Adams, Montravius DT 6-4 304 21 R Auburn
97 Clark, Kenny DT 6-3 314 21 2 UCLA
76 Daniels, Mike DT 6-0 310 28 6 Iowa
98 Guion, Letroy DT 6-4 322 29 10 Florida State
95 Jean Francois, Ricky DT 6-3 313 30 9 LSU
71 Lunsford, Izaah DT 6-3 310 23 R Bowling Green State
96 Price, Brian DT 6-3 318 22 1 Texas-San Antonio
99 Ringo, Christian DT 6-1 298 25 2 Louisiana-Lafayette

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: 8

Training camp will be huge in putting the “depth” into “depth chart.” There are so many questions. Can Matthews and Perry can stay healthy for 16 games (or close to it)? Can Matthews bounce back after the worst season of his career? Can Fackrell, a third-round pick last year, become a steady contributor after a quiet rookie season? Can Biegel, a fourth-round rookie, be more impactful than Fackrell was last year? Can Elliott be an asset on something other than special teams? Can Gilbert or the two undrafted rookies make the team? That trio’s resumes aren’t overly inspiring. Calvin had seven sacks as a senior and ran his 40 in 4.84. Letuligasenoa had 3.5 sacks as a senior and ran a plodding 4.94. Gilbert, an undrafted free agent last who spent his rookie year on the practice squad, had 3.5 sacks as a senior and ran his 40 in 4.88. If the Packers truly intend to move Matthews around the defense, it will be up to the likes  of Fackrell, Biegel and Elliott to provide an impact.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
45 Biegel, Vince OLB 6-3 246 23 R Wisconsin
56 Calvin, Johnathan OLB 6-3 266 23 R Mississippi State
91 Elliott, Jayrone OLB 6-3 255 25 4 Toledo
51 Fackrell, Kyler OLB 6-5 245 25 2 Utah State
93 Gilbert, Reggie OLB 6-3 261 24 1 Arizona
59 Letuligasenoa, Josh OLB 6-1 252   R Cal Poly
52 Matthews, Clay OLB 6-3 255 30 9 Southern California
53 Perry, Nick OLB 6-3 265 27 6 Southern California

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: 7

Apparently satisfied by Ryan, Martinez and Thomas, Green Bay’s only additions were Heiman and Talley. The battle starts with the rotation. Will it be Ryan and Martinez in the base and nickel defenses with Thomas replacing them both in the dime? Will Martinez take a Ryan-style Year 2 leap and be an every-down defender? As for the newcomers, small-school standouts Heiman and Talley have big-time athleticism. Heiman, who had 101 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions as a senior, ran his 40 in 4.63 seconds and his 20-yard shuttle in 4.18. Talley, who had 76 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions as a senior, ran his 40 in a sizzling 4.51 and posted a vertical jump of 41 inches that would have crushed the field at the Combine. They will challenge Tripp and Mathews for a roster spot.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
55 Heiman, Cody ILB 6-2 229 23 R Washburn
50 Martinez, Blake ILB 6-2 237 23 2 Stanford
49 Mathews, Derrick ILB 6-0 232 24 1 Houston
47 Ryan, Jake ILB 6-2 240 25 3 Michigan
57 Talley, David ILB 6-1 236 22 R Grand Valley State
48 Thomas, Joe ILB 6-1 227 26 3 South Carolina State
58 Tripp, Jordan ILB 6-3 234 26 4 Montana

CORNERBACKS: 12

The only thing certain at cornerback is uncertainty. And that’s probably how cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt likes it after what happened last year. Are a healthy Randall and Rollins legit NFL starting cornerbacks? Teams have been looking for the next Richard Sherman for years but big corner after big corner has been a big flop in the NFL. Will King buck that trend? House ranked third in the NFL in passes defensed in 2015 with Jacksonville. If that’s the House that suits up in Green Bay, he might emerge as the No. 1 corner. The alternative is that House might not even make the roster. Speaking of No. 1 corner, just what is Gunter’s ceiling after being thrust into that role by default last year? King is one of five rookies, with the other four going undrafted. All four stand at least 5-foot-11 3/4. Brown had two interceptions as a senior. His pro day numbers weren’t available at NFL Draft Scout or NFL.com.  Pipkins, a graduate student, intercepted one pass and had two breakups during his only season at Oklahoma State. He ran a 4.46 at pro day. Rivers had no interceptions as a part-time starter for the Penguins, who reached the FCS championship game. He ran his 40 in 4.56. Listed as a wide receiver, Pringle was second on the team in rushing as a senior. He ran a 4.42 at pro day, when he went through defensive back drills for scouts.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
44 Brown, Donatello CB 6-0 190 25 R Valdosta State
39 Goodson, Demetri CB 5-11 197 27 4 Baylor
36 Gunter, LaDarius CB 6-2 201 24 3 Miami
28 Hawkins, Josh CB 5-10 189 24 2 East Carolina
31 House, Davon CB 6-0 195 27 7 New Mexico State
20 King, Kevin CB 6-3 200 22 R Washington
41 Pipkins, Lenzy CB 6-0 196 23 R Oklahoma State
46 Pringle, Raysean CB 6-0 191 23 R Southern Utah
23 Randall, Damarious CB 5-11 196 24 3 Arizona State
38 Rivers, David CB 6-1 186 22 R Youngstown State
24 Rollins, Quinten CB 5-11 195 24 3 Miami (Ohio)
26 Waters, Herb CB 6-0 188 24 1 Miami

SAFETIES: 7

On a player-for-player basis, second-round pick Jones replaces Micah Hyde on the roster. Of course, Jones and Hyde are totally different players. At 220 pounds, Jones figures to get plenty of action as a quasi-inside linebacker. With Brice and Evans, the Packers have the potential to have excellent depth. Brice delivered physicality on a weekly basis as an undrafted rookie. It’s easy to forget he weighs only 200 pounds. Evans, also undrafted last year, had a strong preseason. The undrafted Taylor is at home at the line of scrimmage. He played linebacker for Ball State and led the team with 11.5 tackles for losses. He ran his 40 in 4.59 seconds.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
29 Brice, Kentrell S 5-11 200 22 2 Louisiana Tech
42 Burnett, Morgan S 6-1 209 28 8 Georgia Tech
21 Clinton-Dix, Ha Ha S 6-1 208 24 4 Alabama
25 Evans, Marwin S 5-11 211 24 2 Utah State
27 Jones, Josh S 6-2 220 22 R North Carolina State
37 Taylor, Aaron S 5-11 206 23 R Ball State
35 Whitehead, Jermaine S 5-11 195 24 1 Auburn

SPECIALISTS: 4

With the release of Taybor Pepper, Hart is the only snapper on the roster. He might as well be battling Brett Goode, who remains a free agent but is probably on standby. As it is, the only battle is at punter. Schum’s net average of 39.1 yards ranked 24th but he hit his stride down the stretch. Because of the climate, a Packers punter will never wow anyone with his stats. But Schum won the one-on-one net-punt matchup in eight of the final 11 games (including playoffs). His 43.5-yard net average in the playoffs ranks as the second-best single postseason in team annals. Critically, opponents returned 28.6 percent of his punts, the lowest rate in the league. Vogel spent two years at Florida before transferring to Miami. He averaged a career-best 43.8 yards per punt with a fair-catch rate of 51.6 percent as a senior.

No.PlayerPos.HeightWeightAgeExp.College
2 Crosby, Mason K 6-1 207 32 11 Colorado
54 Hart, Derek LS 6-4 245 24 R James Madison
10 Schum, Jacob P 5-10 211 28 3 Buffalo
5 Vogel, Justin P 6-4 219 23 R Miami (Fla.)

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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