Plenty of strong candidates for first-round picks
A cornerback could be a focus of the Packers in the draft. For a look at how the Packers’ fared in 2016 — and why a cornerback could factor into the Packers’ draft plans — here’s a review of Bob McGinn’s player grades last season: MAKINTON DORLEANT: Feisty free agent was battling fellow rookie Josh Hawkins for the final berth at cornerback when a hamstring injury sent him to injured reserve for the first 11 games. He played five snaps on defense upon his return before a torn ACL ended his season in Game 16. Grade: Incomplete. DEMETRI GOODSON: Came off a four-game suspension and stepped immediately onto the field against Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta, playing 145 snaps after having played just 74 in his first two seasons. Performed competently in two of the three games. Competitive athlete and solid tackler. Was showing development in coverage. Blew out his knee in Game 10 and underwent season-ending surgery. Grade: D-plus.
LaDARIUS GUNTER: Went to training camp as the No. 4 cornerback and ended camp as No. 4. He was No. 3 by Game 2, No. 2 by Game 4 and No. 1 from Game 5 on. An undrafted rookie in 2015, Gunter ended up playing 1,082 snaps (85.7%). He shadowed Julio Jones not once but twice, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr., among others. No matter how hard he competed, Gunter didn’t have the speed or the skill to match up. He did his best. He forced two fumbles. He was physical. He frustrated some far more athletically gifted opponents. Gunter, however, was burned more and more as the season progressed and teams discovered his shortcomings. He allowed 11½ passes of 20 yards or more, which still was 1½ fewer than Damarious Randall last year, and eight TD passes. When injuries mounted, Gunter wasn’t able to tackle effectively and ended up missing 10, the second highest total on the team. And he also
never intercepted a pass, dropping two. Grade: C-minus.
JOSH HAWKINS: Rookie free agent played well on defense and special teams all summer. Maybe it was fool’s gold because Hawkins was considered too undependable to get on the field despite the problems at cornerback. After blowing a coverage late in the first half to give Detroit’s Marvin Jones a 73-yard TD, he was banished for months until there was no alternative except to play him for 15 snaps in the playoffs against Dallas. That wasn’t pretty, either. Hawkins also tied for the team lead in penalties on special teams with four, leading to his removal for three weeks late in the season. If the Packers can
tolerate mistakes, he’ll be back in camp. Grade: F.
DAMARIOUS RANDALL: He was the player of the game on opening day in Jacksonville. The next Sunday, he was torched by Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs. One week after that, he left the field for what would be the first of countless times due to illness or injury. Many players improve in their second season. Randall regressed. Even though his playing time was just 56.3%, he was responsible for 8½ TD passes. The last corner in Green Bay to allow that many was Al Harris in 2004. The last corner to allow more was Craig Newsome (10½) in ’95. Randall also allowed nine plays of 20 yards or more, was
an easy mark for QBs down the stretch and all too often was a disinterested, timid tackler. The groin surgery he underwent Oct. 22 that forced him out of five games didn’t help. Randall carried himself with bravado but teammates could see right through that. He was forever late lining up, almost as if he didn’t need to be in football position at the snap. He has ball skills and speed. Two of his four picks (stealing the ball from Detroit’s Eric Ebron, ranging far to deny Seattle’s Doug Baldwin a long TD) were magnificent. But when a second-year player is as non-competitive as Randall has been for the last 1½ seasons, it’s difficult to expect much change for the better. Grade: D.
QUINTEN ROLLINS: His second season was almost as disappointing as Randall’s. He appeared to lose confidence in coverage, repeatedly failed to locate the ball downfield, and didn’t tackle well. Some scouts feared Rollins’ 4.54 speed might not be good enough for him to play outside. So far, those scouts were right. Injuries and poor performance limited him to 58.4% playing time. After not allowing a single TD pass as a rookie Rollins yielded 4½ to go with eight completions of 20 yards or more. The ball skills that he displayed for one season in the Mid-American Conference haven’t translated to the NFL. His only pick was tipped to him by Gunter, and he hasn’t forced or recovered a fumble in two years. On the plus side, he didn’t have a penalty in either season. Rollins probably would be physical enough to play safety but the Packers don’t need him there. Grade: D. HERB WATERS: A four-year WR at Miami, Waters did an adequate job as a rookie free agent before being cut Sept. 3. The Packers signed him to the practice squad and moved him to CB. He has the size (5-11½, 192), speed (4.50), athleticism (38½-inch vertical) and arm length (325⁄ 8) to play the position. Regarded as a rugged blocker and good special-teams player in college, he might have toughness for defense. Grade: Inc.
Packers cornerbacks Damarious Randall (left) and Quinten Rollins struggled in their second season and failed to make key plays.