Packers depth chart 2019: New-look Green Bay aims to support Aaron Rodgers with defense

first_imgNFL POWER RANKINGS:Packers jump Bears in post-draft rankingsAs the Packers march through their offseason program, here’s breaking down their projected two-deep depth chart on both sides of the ball, focusing on the big changes.Packers depth chart: OffensePos.StarterBackupQBAaron RodgersDeShone KizerRBAaron JonesJamaal WilliamsWRDavante AdamsTrevor DavisWRGeronimo AllisonMarquez Valdes-ScantlingWREquanimeous St. BrownJake KumerowTEJimmy GrahamMarcedes LewisLTDavid BakhtiariJason SpriggsLGLane TaylorCole MadisonCCorey LinsleyElgton JenkinsRGBilly TurnerJustin McCrayRTBryan BulagaGerhard de BeerRunning backGreen Bay’s skill positions did not change much. The Packers did not draft Missouri quarterback Drew Lock as some had speculated they would. Rodgers’ contract runs through 2024, meaning this upcoming stretch is likely the last title window in his Hall of Fame career. Green Bay did not draft a wide receiver, so between Equanimeous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison, at least one must develop into a No. 2 beside Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams.At running back, there is intrigue behind Aaron Jones, who averages 5.5 yards per carry but has yet to play in more than 12 games in a season. Backup Jamaal Williams averages 3.7 yards per carry in the same stretch. Dexter Williams was a prolific running back at Notre Dame last season, and the Packers snagged him in the sixth round. He could work into the rotation with a strong preseason. SecondaryGreen Bay addressed cornerback in the 2017 and 2018 drafts, and that brought in Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Josh Jackson. Sixth-round pick Ka’dar Hollman, who had 19 pass breakups the last two seasons at Toledo, joins that group this year.The Packers spent this offseason addressing safety, which has been a weak spot in the defense over the last several seasons. Adrian Amos, a free-agency pickup from Chicago, will start at free safety. Green Bay traded up to get Darnell Savage Jr., who had seven interceptions (two returned for TDs) for Maryland over the last two seasons. Josh Jones also is in the mix.The Packers have invested in the secondary. Alexander and Jackson combined for 21 pass breakups last season and flashed at times. If the safeties improve, then Green Bay will start to cure its biggest issue on defense. If free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft showed us anything about the future of the Packers, then it’s that Green Bay’s new management is willing to make a concerted effort to get more talent around future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.For 2019, that means a new-look offense and a new-name defense. General manager Brian Gutekunst hired coach Matt LaFleur from the Sean McVay tree this offseason to give the offense a fresh start. Then Green Bay concentrated its free-agency and draft efforts on improving an inconsistent defense that has led to a slow downfall around Rodgers. There are a lot of new faces on that side of the ball. Tight endJimmy Graham was not a bust last season even though he caught just 55 of 89 targets and scored only two TDs. He did not have that Jordy Nelson-like presence in the red zone the Packers have lacked. Marcedes Lewis is a role player in the offense, too, and Green Bay drafted Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger in the third round.Sternberger averaged 17.3 yards per catch and had 10 TDs for the Aggies last season. He can learn from Graham and perhaps develop into a key piece by the second half of the season.Offensive lineLeft tackle David Bakhtiari is signed through 2021, but the Packers have needed to re-invest in this offensive line for the last few years. Rodgers took 49 sacks last season one year after he missed nine games with a collarbone injury.Green Bay brought in Denver’s Billy Turner on a four-year deal that will be scrutinized until it pans out. Turner is a starting guard who also can provide insurance at right tackle for Bryan Bulaga, who has missed 13 games over the last two seasons. Elgton Jenkins, a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, could develop into a starter behind guard Lane Taylor and center Corey Linsley, both of whom are under contract until 2021.This is not a full-fledged makeover, but the Packers must be better up front considering the Bears and Vikings tied for third in the NFL with 50 sacks apiece in 2018.center_img Packers depth chart: Defense Pos.StarterBackupDEZa’Darius Smith*Dean LowryNTKenny ClarkKeke Kingsley*DERashan Gary*Fadol BrownOLBPreston Smith*Reggie Gilbert*ILBOren BurksJames CrawfordILBBlake MartinezTy Summers*OLBKyler FackrellKendall DonnersonCBJaire AlexanderKa’dar Hollman*SSJosh JonesDarnell Savage Jr.*FSAdrian Amos*Tramon WilliamsCBKevin KingJosh Jackson* New to Packers in 2019Defensive lineOver the last three seasons, Green Bay ranks 29th in both points allowed (31 per game) and pass defense (275.7 yards per game). Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needed help at every position group, and Gutekunst obliged in free agency and the draft.Kenny Clark is a Pro Bowl-caliber player on the interior, but he needs to stay healthy. Green Bay added Za’Darius Smith from Baltimore via free agency. Smith is a versatile hybrid who had 8.5 sacks last season. Dean Lowry adds depth at the position.First-round pick Rashan Gary is the X-factor, especially with the decision to release Mike Daniels as training camp opened. He played defensive end at Michigan, but Green Bay might utilize him in a stand-up role off the edge. Gary was the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school and flashed at times because of his freakish ability, but he had just 9.5 sacks in three seasons with the Wolverines. He is the boom-or-bust player that could take this defensive line to another level. Edge rusherThe fact that the Packers are considering Gary on the edge is rooted in the need to rebuild the edge rush after Clay Matthews and Nick Perry were let go this offseason. Matthews left as the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks with 83.5. Matthews and Perry, however, combined for just five sacks last season.Kyler Fackrell emerged as the leader with 10.5 sacks in a breakout season. Green Bay added Preston Smith from Washington; he averaged six sacks over the last four seasons and could benefit from the move.Depth is the concern knowing Reggie Gilbert was a role player last season, and 2018 seventh-round pick Kendall Donnerson is still developing. Do not be surprised if this is where Gary starts, because the rush needs to be better for the pass defense’s sake.LinebackerGreen Bay did not pursue an inside linebacker in free agency, and it added TCU’s Ty Summers in the seventh round. Summers will get a chance for reps along with second-year linebacker Oren Burks knowing that standout linebacker Blake Martinez’s contract expires in 2020.NFL QB RANKING FOR 2019:Rodgers bests Brady but isn’t No. 1 QBlast_img