Packers defense features an impressive collection of elite players

Joe Barry will have no shortage of elite talent when he leads the Green Bay Packers defense for the first time as Matt LaFleur’s new defensive coordinator in 2021.

Touchdown Wire’s ranking of defensive players at various position groups leaves no doubt. The Packers are loaded with top players on the defensive side of the ball.

Doug Farrar and Mark Schofield compiled the position rankings. The Packers had a player featured in the top 11 at safety, slot defender, perimeter cornerback, interior defensive lineman and edge rusher. The only position group without a member of the Packers defense was at linebacker.

Darnell Savage ranked as the No. 3 overall safety and No. 10 overall slot defender.

Jaire Alexander ranked as the No. 2 overall perimeter cornerback.

Kenny Clark ranked as the No. 5 overall interior defensive lineman.

Za’Darius Smith ranked as the No. 4 overall edge rusher.

That’s four difference-making players at premium positions.

Savage was one of the best safeties in football to end last season, Alexander has emerged as one of the two or three best cornerbacks in the game. Clark has wrecked the inside of offensive lines for several years. And Smith has produced two disruptive seasons in Green Bay.

Mike Pettine couldn’t get the most out of the group over three seasons, so LaFleur and the Packers moved on.

Barry will need the supporting role players to be better in 2021.

Playing consistent and dominant defense in the NFL is oftentimes more about having 11 capable players on the field at all times than fielding two or three stars. Quarterbacks and offenses are too good. They find and attack the weak links. The first half of the NFC title game was evidence of this reality.

The Packers finished last season ranked 13th in the NFL in yards allowed, ninth in points allowed, 17th in scoring percentage and 25th in takeaways.

Improving means getting better performances from players such as cornerback Kevin King, edge rusher Preston Smith, the starting inside linebackers and whoever is playing alongside Clark along the defensive front. The stars need more help.

Don’t discount players such as safety Adrian Amos, edge rusher Rashan Gary and defensive lineman Kingsley Keke. They will be crucial for giving the Packers a deep and reliable group on defense in 2021.

Starpower will be abundant for Barry and the Packers defense. This is a group with difference-makers at key spots. They have a versatile safety, a lockdown cornerback, a game-wrecking interior defender and a do-it-all edge rusher.

It’s time for the Packers to turn all the starpower into a dominant, top-five defense.


Important training camp approaching for these recent draft picks of Packers