Packers impressed with rookie Tariq Carpenter’s movement skills

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The Green Bay Packers have toyed with the idea of using rookie Tariq Carpenter as a linebacker, but he’s impressed the team with his size and movement skills early on.

“Looking at him in rookie minicamp, he really can move, for as big as he is. That, to me, was the biggest impression he made on me, just his movement skills for his size,” safeties coach Ryan Downard said Wednesday.

The Packers used the 228th overall pick on Carpenter, who stands 6-3 and weighs 230 pounds – far bigger than most traditional safeties – but ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and aced both the vertical and broad jumps during Georgia Tech’s pro day. His size and athleticism had many thinking he could be a hybrid safety-linebacker who drops into the box on obvious passing downs.

Downard said Carpenter is “asking good questions in meetings” as he attempts to learn the playbook. But it’s the movement ability that has the Packers excited.

“He’s rare. He’s been labeled a lot of different things. He’s been labeled a hybrid. He brings a good set of tools,” Downard said. “I just go back to the movement skills. Typically, when players are that big, because of the size, whether it’s the height or the weight, they just lack the fluidity and the movement skills. With him, it’s not lacking. I’m excited to keep working with him.”

The Packers think Carpenter, who started 41 games at safety for Georgia Tech, can play in the box or deep in coverage or even in man coverage.

“He can check a lot of boxes. Close to the line of scrimmage. In the deep zones. Man coverage, we saw it in the rookie minicamp,” Downard said. “Really excited about him.”

The Packers have an opening at the third safety spot entering the summer. Henry Black, who played over 200 snaps in the role last season, wasn’t retained. The defense doesn’t have an obvious replacement, although Vernon Scott, Shawn Davis and Innis Gaines will all get a chance to compete with Carpenter for the job.

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