Safety is big need for Packers but only a few standouts at NFL Scouting Combine
The safety position is without question one of the biggest needs that the Green Bay Packers have to address this offseason. However, in terms of high-end talent, this is a thin position group compared to others like edge rusher, tight end, and cornerback, not to mention that, as a whole, very few from the safety position stood out at the NFL Combine.
During Brian Gutekunst’s tenure as GM, there has been a strong connection between his draft picks and how they score on Kent Lee Plattee’s Relative Athletic Score scale that ranges from 0-10. For more on the inner workings of RAS, click here, but in short, 30 of Gutey’s 42 RAS-eligible draft picks have scored 8.0 or higher, with 18 of those 30 in the nine-plus range. On the flip side, only eight have scored below 7.0.
Of 26 safeties at the combine who have enough data to be given a Relative Athletic Score, only eight scored about 8.0. I guess the good news is that of those eight, seven were above 9.0, but there were also 15 prospects who scored worse than 7.0.
If Gutey’s draft history with RAS holds, there may have been a number of players crossed off Green Bay’s draft board on Friday.
Now, I always want to add the caveat that RAS is just one piece of the puzzle – it’s not the be-all-end-all. But with that said, it’s not as if there were many early-round options at safety for the Packers to begin with, either.
On Daniel Jeremiah’s big board, only two safeties made the top 50: Brian Branch, who posted a RAS of 6.38, and Ji’Ayir Brown, who scored 3.68. Antonio Johnson is another name some have in their top 50 big boards, but he scored a 6.67 – all three well below what the Packers typically covet. Of the 10 safeties that PFF projects to go somewhat early on in the draft, only Sydney Brown, projected to go on Day 2, and Jartavius Martin, projected by PFF to go early on Day 3, were on the list of eight players to score above 8.0 on the RAS scale.
So with safety being as big of a need as it is for the Packers with Darnell Savage, who was benched at one point in 2022 and may be better served in the slot rather than playing deep, being the only player on the roster with any experience, along with their potentially being limited options early on in the draft, perhaps free agency is how Green Bay should go about addressing this need.
This is a fairly deep free-agent class at safety, with 14 players making PFF’s top 100. Green Bay likely won’t have a ton of cap space to be spent, but they’ll have viable options. The addition of a safety in free agency also shouldn’t stop the Packers from adding to this position in the draft either–they should do both.
Another potential solution at safety could be moving Rasul Douglas inside, which is something that Gutekunst discussed this past week while at the combine.
“(Douglas) has such good eyes and instincts when he’s back there and seeing the whole field,” Gutekunst said at the NFL Combine via Packers.com. “Anytime you move a guy inside, whether it’s the nickel or the safety, and you have both sides you really have to worry about, there’s a curve there that’s going to take some time to really understand that. But his skill set as far as his eyes, his ability to go get the ball, his angles, his instincts, and he’s a pretty good tackler, too, he could make that transition if that’s what we decided to do.”
Doing this, however, then creates a bigger need at cornerback, although that is arguably the strongest position to draft from in this year’s class, with seven players making Jeremiah’s top 50.
Free agency begins on March 15th, with the legal tampering period starting two days prior to that. Green Bay currently has $17.5 million in available cap space, according to Over the Cap, and another handful of contract restructure candidates to give them more room.
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