Newcomer De’Vondre Campbell brings ‘different dynamic’ to Packers LB group

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Green Bay Packers believe they are adding a big and versatile linebacker to the roster in De’Vondre Campbell, who officially signed with the team on Wednesday.

Coach Matt LaFleur mentioned he was with Campbell during his rookie season in Atlanta in 2016 and also said he “studied a lot of his film” over Campbell’s one season with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020.

“He’s a big, long guy that can run. Definitely brings a different dynamic to that room in his ability to be able to cover, whether it’s tight ends or backs,” LaFleur said Wednesday. “We think he’s a really versatile player. He’s a great person, first and foremost, which is so important for our team.”

Campbell stands 6-4 with almost 34″ arms, making him the tallest and longest linebacker on the roster. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds coming out of Minnesota in 2016, highlighting his straight-line speed.

He also has vast starting experience, with 70 starts over his first five seasons, including all 16 games with the Cardinals last season.

The Packers are mostly inexperienced at inside linebacker, although Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin – who played a lot of snaps for Green Bay as rookies in 2020 – both return. Joe Barry’s defense also has linebackers Oren Burks, Ty Summers and Isaiah McDuffie, all draft picks over the last few seasons.

Campbell, 27, provides the long, athletic linebacker that has often manned the middle of defenses coached by Barry, the Packers’ first-year defensive coordinator.

It’s unclear if Campbell will be a difference-making player for the Packers.

The team ranked 32nd in the linebacker rankings at Pro Football Focus, suggesting a great need for help at the position group. Even if Campbell can perform at an average level, he’ll likely be an upgrade over what the Packers have on the roster.

Then again, PFF hasn’t been kind to Campbell as a player over his career.

Of the 99 linebackers that played at least 20 percent of their team’s snaps last season, Campbell ranked 73rd in overall grade, 67th in run defense grade and 63rd in coverage grade.

Over his five seasons in the NFL, Campbell has four complete seasons with an overall grade under 60.0, making him well below average by PFF standards. While a sure tackler, his grades have been consistently underwhelming against the run and in coverage.

LaFleur’s comment on Campbell’s ability in coverage rings a bit hollow. For his career, Campbell has allowed 14 touchdown passes, a completion percentage of 76.2 and a passer rating of 109.8 against his coverage, per PFF. Big and athletic doesn’t necessarily mean Campbell will be a great player in the passing game.

The Packers will hope Campbell can be a more efficient player with better talent around him and in Barry’s scheme. At the very least, he’ll be exactly the kind of veteran competition the linebacker group needed entering the summer. His length, athleticism and experience certainly bring a different dynamic to the position, as LaFleur stated.

Related

Packers release RB Mike Weber to make room for signing of LB De'Vondre Campbell