Predicting the Packers Draft: Defensive Back

Any observer of the Green Bay Packers could reasonably conclude that they need help in the secondary. But that help has to come in a pretty specific package. Not just any corner or safety will do, since the Packers have a very specific set of attributes they prize when it comes to defensive backs. 

What do the Packers look for in the draft at defensive back?

Here’s something you may not have expected: the Packers tend to draft defensive backs that are actually slightly faster than the league average.

Aside from that, the Packers stick pretty closely to their preference of cornerbacks and safeties who measure 5-11 or taller, while also exhibiting a tendency towards good three cone times.

What’s the best round to select a defensive back?

Our data produces one hard and fast rule for defense: draft a cornerback early or don’t draft one at all. According to our research, undrafted cornerbacks produce generally about as well as someone drafted between rounds five and seven.

Safeties are similar, but the rule is a little less well-defined. Early picks produce better with a sharp drop-off starting in the fourth round. Picks from rounds four through seven and undrafted players are generally about the same.

2016 Pro Football Focus grades by round selected - CB

2016 Pro Football Focus grades by round selected - S

What rounds have the Packers drafted outside linebackers?

Highest pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 2014
Originally projected much higher, Clinton-Dix fell right into the Packers lap with the 21st pick in 2014.

Biggest disappointment: Pat Lee, 2008
Taken one pick ahead of future Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, Lee never did anything to justify his selection in the second round.

Best value: Nick Collins, 2005
Aaron Rodgers gets the headlines, but Nick Collins was a sneaky great pick in 2005. He might have been on his way to a Hall of Fame career when an unfortunate injury brought things to a halt all too soon.

Who might the Packers draft at defensive back? 

The cornerback crop comes with a caveat: there are tons and tons of players who fit what the Packers want from cornerbacks. That said, Chidobe Awuzie from Colorado fits the size and speed projections really well.

We said earlier that the Packers should avoid drafting a corner if they don’t take one in the first couple rounds, and that’s still true, but if they do decide to draft someone towards the middle rounds, Shaquill Griffin fits the model. According to, his NFL analogue is Ladarius Gunter, which is encouraging from a physical profile perspective but discouraging just about everywhere else.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Nate Hairston is a corner with decent size who played receiver for three years before moving to defense. He’s coming to Green Bay, right?

High-end cornerbacks 

  • CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
  • CB Quincy Wilson, Florida
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

Mid-round cornerbacks

  • CB Shaquill Griffin, UCF
  • CB Brian Allen, Utah

Late-round or undrafted cornerbacks

  • CB Nate Hairston, Temple