Here's What We Expect from the 2018 Packers' Defense
It’s crucially important to determine what your expectations are for a particular player before you begin to evaluate him. As a continuation of our podcast exploration of the same concept, here are our expectations for the 2018 Packers defensive players.
Low Expectations - Anything beyond making the roster is a bonus
Kendall Donnerson - Donnerson may be the defensive equivalent of Jeff Janis: a seventh-round pick whose prodigious athleticism set him apart at lower levels of competition but whose long-term upside is still a mystery. Special teams is probably the ticket for him at this point.
Demetri Goodson - He deserves all the credit in the world for his comeback from injury in 2017, but Goodson is facing a serious numbers problem to make the roster.
Raven Greene - Athletically similar to Marwin Evans, Greene could have a chance to pick off some of the lower-end competition in the safety group.
Naashon Hughes - Hughes never lived up to his athletic potential at Texas, but it’s just that athleticism that makes him worth a shot.
CJ Johnson - An even longer shot than Hughes, Johnson will have to play bigger than his size to make an impact.
Tyler Lancaster - In a normal year, Lancaster might have a pretty straightforward path to the roster, but the Packers’ defensive line group is unusually deep in 2018.
James Looney - An undersized yet athletic prospect, Looney is in a similar position to Lancaster with the added benefit of having been a draft pick this spring.
Greer Martini - Martini has the size but not necessarily the speed to be a special teams contributor.
Joey Mbu - Mbu’s game is all about size and strength. He has both, but numbers issues could prevent him from having an opportunity to use them.
Marcus Porter - An undersized linebacker at the best time in league history to be an undersized linebacker, Porter will have to show why the Packers should consider keeping more than the bare minimum amount of linebackers on the roster.
Quinten Rollins - Recovery from an Achilles tear is a challenge for even exceptional athletes, and Rollins has always been limited by his athleticism.
Conor Sheehy - Like Jared Abbrederis and Vince Biegel before him, Sheehy has an opportunity to complete the Wisconsin football Triple Crown this season.
Ahmad Thomas - If there’s a relationship the amount of chinstrap attachments and player performance, Thomas should be in good shape.
Herb Waters - A shoulder injury last season may have doomed Waters’ best shot at making the roster. Sheer numbers definitely work against him.
Moderate Expectations - Stable role players who occasionally take on a bigger role
Montravius Adams - Last year, Montravius Adams was expected to be a regular contributor in the defensive line rotation. That should be largely the same this year.
Donatello Brown - Still possessing the best size/speed combination of last year’s undrafted rookies, Brown has to show more than just physical promise this year.
Oren Burks - His roster spot is all but assured, but Burks has a chance to do some very interesting things as a rookie, potentially in a role custom made for him.
Marwin Evans - A special teams leader, Evans has a chance to be more than an extremely occasional contributor on defense with a thin safety group ahead of him.
Josh Hawkins - Faster than fast, Hawkins needs to be more than a less-productive version of Sam Shields to earn a roster spot.
Davon House - He should win a roster spot on experience alone, but a low ceiling might have the Packers looking elsewhere.
Josh Jackson - Jackson has a background in zone coverage, which runs contrary to what Mike Pettine prefers to run on defense. Between that and limited speed, the expectations for Jackson should be appropriately lowered.
Dean Lowry - A sneaky good athlete, Lowry may not get the snaps to contribute in a big way this year, but he’ll do his job and then some when he’s on the field.
Chris Odom - A position switch redshirt scuttled his rookie season, but Odom has no such excuse this year. He’ll be expected to make the roster and play.
Lenzy Pipkins - The most promising of last year’s undrafted corners, if Pipkins can contribute on special teams he’ll have a job.
Jake Ryan - Ryan is a bit of a dinosaur in the modern NFL, but he’ll be the de facto number two linebacker at the start of camp.
Jermaine Whitehead - He stuck around for the better part of two seasons for a reason and like Evans, he’ll benefit from a thin safety group.
Kentrell Brice - The clubhouse leader to start along Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Brice needs to harness his prodigious athleticism in a meaningful way to meet expectations this season.
High Expectations - Significant impact required
Jaire Alexander - A first-round pick with swagger for days, how could expectations not be sky high for the latest savior of the secondary?
Vince Biegel - The Packers declined help at outside linebacker this offseason in large part because of Biegel. He needs to show why.
Kenny Clark - Still 22 for two more months, Clark is a star in waiting.
Mike Daniels - If we had anything other than high expectations for Mike Daniels, he would find us and do mean things.
Kyler Fackrell - Fackrell is the defensive counterpart to Jason Spriggs - an athletic player who was probably overdrafted and needs a big start to 2018 to silence doubters.
Reggie Gilbert - Like Biegel, Gilbert is on the hook for justifying the Packers’ decision not to bring in outside help at outside linebacker.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - An underwhelming 2017, a contract year in 2018, and a new defensive coordinator should give Clinton-Dix all the reason he needs to play well. If he doesn’t it’s probably curtains for the 2014 first rounder.
Josh Jones - Big time athleticism rarely translated into big time plays for Jones in 2017. There’s no reason that should be the case in 2018.
Kevin King - With a tumultuous rookie season behind him and a surgically repaired shoulder, King should be ready to show why the T.J. Watt situation isn’t as lopsided as some people might think.
Blake Martinez - After tying for the league lead in tackles, Martinez is taking on more responsibility this season as he dons the communication helmet. He’ll be the tip of the spear for Mike Pettine’s new defense.
Clay Matthews - Expectations are permanently high for Matthews, even as his athleticism declines.
Nick Perry - Perry’s 2017 season didn’t justify his big contract. 2018 had better.
Muhammad Wilkerson - If anybody is putting pressure on Muhammad Wilkerson, it should be Muhammad Wilkerson. He could cash in big time next spring with a solid 2018 season.
Tramon Williams - Williams needs to be the glue that holds the young secondary together. With so much youth, that’s no easy task.