Setting Expectations on Defense

Earlier this year year, we evaluated every member of the 2016 Packers according to how they lived up to their expectations. Some players were dinged for not living up to lofty expectations, while others were praised for rising above their circumstances to exceed low expectations.

Going into this season, we’re publishing our expectations for every player ahead of training camp. We’ve already given our expectations for the offense. Now, here’s our list for the defense.

Low Expectations

Marwin Evans - Evans was high on promise but low on opportunity in 2016. A big, athletic safety, he could make some noise if he stays healthy and finds the right role.

Herb Waters - We’ll say the same thing about Herb Waters that everybody else does: he used to be a receiver at Miami and now he’s a cornerback, just like Sam Shields!

Josh Hawkins - Hawkins actually played in eleven games last season, recording one pass defensed. He had a Ballhawk Index score of 1.

Jermaine Whitehead - A favorite of former Packers beat writer Bob McGinn, Whitehead has his work cut out for him in a crowded safety group.

Aaron Taylor - No, not the lineman from the 90s.

Daquan Holmes - A good size and speed combo with a productive track record in small school ball, Holmes is on the 90-man roster after earning a spot in the post-draft tryout camp.

Lenzy Pipkins - Facing competition in the name of the year race with Donatello Brown and Raysean Pringle.

Donatello Brown - Facing competition in the name of the year race with Lenzy Pipkins and Raysean Pringle.

Raysean Pringle - Facing competition in the name of the year race with Lenzy Pipkins and Donatello Brown.

Derrick Matthews - A hard hitting, undersized linebacker, Matthews likely needs injuries ahead of him on the depth chart at both linebacker and safety to have a shot.

Cody Heiman - Heiman is trying to join a rare group of players who made the jump from eight man football to college competition to the NFL.

Johnathan Calvin - Calvin has the right profile to fit into the Packers’ expectations for an edge rusher and will have every chance to follow in the footsteps of Vic So’oto, Andy Mulumba, and Jayrone Elliott before him.

David Talley - Another tryout player, Talley will fight a tough battle at inside linebacker.

Josh Letuligasenoa - Le-TU-lee-yah-se-NO-uh. You’re welcome.

Izaah Lunsford - He holds his high school’s record in the shot put.

Adam Pankey - Another former college tackle hoping to become a guard for the Packers.

Letroy Guion - Somehow, Letroy Guion still has a job with the Packers despite multiple arrests and suspensions. How much lower could expectations get?

Moderate Expectations

Quinten Rollins - Rollins could be a starter at some point this season or he could be out of a job by the end of training camp. We’ll split the difference with his expectations.

Kentrell Brice - Athletic and versatile, the Packers will probably expect Brice to fill in some of the void left by Micah Hyde. Not all, but some.

Ladarius Gunter - Gunter had too much asked of him last year. Hopefully a more moderate season will lead to better results.

Demetri Goodson - If you’re expecting more than special teams contributions from Goodson, you’re probably asking too much.

Joe Thomas - Every year seems like the year Joe Thomas will lose his job for good. Every year, he survives.

Blake Martinez - One of us had Blake Martinez as a defensive rookie of the year candidate last season. That was too high a bar. Moderate expectations seem right.

Jordan Tripp - Tripp has made his NFL living as a special teams player. He may need to be more than that to make the roster this season, but perhaps not much more.

Montravius Adams - Often compared to Justin Harrell, Jerel Worthy, and Khyri Thonrton, Adams likely won’t have quite the struggle those three had as he navigates his first NFL season thanks to a deeper roster ahead of him.

Reggie Gilbert - Just about prototypical pass rusher size, Gilbert had his redshirt season last year. It’s time for more.

Ricky Jean Francois - Francois faces “moderate” expectations because of his status as a Ted Thompson free agent signing. A versatile player, Francois should be counted on for depth if not stardom.

Brian Price - Last year, his expectations would have been low. But the second go-round raises the bar, even for a former undrafted free agent.

Christian Ringo - Ringo made the roster seemingly more due to familiarity last year than any on-field contributions. Draft picks and a deeper position group will make duplicating that feat a tougher ask.

High Expectations

Kevin King - Rare athleticism and a tough situation at cornerback means King will be counted on to contribute in a big way almost from day one. No pressure.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - A Pro Bowl berth means you’re among the better players in the league at your position. It also means everyone expects more from you going forward.

Damarious Randall - No more Sam Shields. No more injury excuses. No more youthful inexperience. It’s time for Randall to produce at a level that reflects his draft pedigree.

Josh Jones - The NFL loves a good fad, and athletic hybrid players are the hottest fad going. Jones is the Packers’ response to that fad.

Davon House - Ted Thompson doesn’t hand out free agent contracts out of charity. House will be expected to start at some point this season, probably early.

Morgan Burnett - Contract years raise expectations for everyone, and Burnett is just a few months from a big payday.

Vince Biegel - It may not have factored into their decision at all, but the Packers essentially traded T.J. Watt for Kevin King and Vince Biegel. Packers fans won’t forget that.

Jake Ryan - Ryan improved down the stretch big time last year. He’s the Packers’ best shot at a “traditional” inside linebacker.

Kyler Fackrell - Fackrell was  a big reason the Packers could move on from as many pass rushers as they did. He’ll have to fill the void and show why that faith was justified.

Clay Matthews - He hasn’t produced like a star in several years. It’s time for Clay Matthews to silence his critics.

Nick Perry - Big money brings bigger expectations and the Packers cut Perry a big check in the offseason. Will he respond with another big season?

Mike Daniels - Daniels is probably the only player on the roster who sets expectations for himself as Aaron Rodgers does. Our expectations are comparably high as well.

Jayrone Elliott - Like Kyler Fackrell, Elliott is a big reason the Packers were comfortable

Dean Lowry - Lowry’s play steadily picked up last season. His size and athleticism could make him a terror with a year of experience under his belt.

Kenny Clark - Clark’s best game was the divisional round matchup with the Cowboys, in which he at times dominated some Pro Bowl-caliber opposing linemen. Now it’s time for him to show that wasn’t a fluke.