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Improving the Green Bay Packers Safety Position Is Crucial This Offseason

The Green Bay Packers safety position will be at the top of the list of positions to improve if they want to win the NFC North.

2023 turned out to be a solid season for the young Green Bay Packers. They finished with a 9-8 record, clinched a playoff berth, and made it to the second round of the NFC Playoffs. The way they finished gives the Packers a lot of hope for 2024. This off-season will be a crucial one for the Packers. They will need to bolster key positions. The Green Bay Packers safety position will be at the top of the list of positions to improve.

Improving the Green Bay Packers Safety Position Is Crucial This Offseason

As we discussed previously, the Green Bay Packers safety position was one of the most glaring weaknesses in 2023. While general manager Brian Gutekunst did an excellent job in the 2023 NFL Draft, his decision to not upgrade the safety position turned out to be a mistake. It is highly doubtful that he will make the same mistake this off-season.

It will be vital for Gutekunst to upgrade safety for the new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. Hafley will be implementing a new 4-3 defensive scheme. Excluding inside linebacker, safety might be the most important position in Hafley’s scheme.

It appears that the Packers safety position is set for a massive turnover. The Packers top three safeties from last season, Darnell Savage Jr., Jonathan Owens, and Rudy Ford all will be free agents this off-season. There is a strong possibility that all three won’t return.

Gutekunst will need to use every tool he has in his toolbox to replenish the safety position this off-season. That means selecting at least one safety in the NFL Draft (possibly two) and going bargain shopping in NFL Free Agency. Today, we take a look at options, through the draft and in free agency.

NFL Draft

The safety prospects in 2023 were considered below average. Unfortunately for the Packers and Gutekunst, this year’s class looks to be very similar. In ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s most recent rankings, he doesn’t have one safety with a first-round grade.

Still, that doesn’t mean the Packers can’t find a safety who can contribute in their rookie season. Kiper’s top safety, Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin, is being pegged as a possible second-round selection by some. Nubin has good size, 6’1″ and 199 pounds, and displayed big-play ability while at Minnesota. His biggest knock is possibly his speed. But if he is put in the right scheme and plays next to a veteran safety, he could be an instant contributor.

While Kamren Kinchens doesn’t have Nubin’s size, 5’11” and 203 pounds, he compares well to Nubin when it comes to making plays. Kiper has him rated as his second safety prospect. Another possible prospect that could be available in the mid-rounds is Washington State’s Jaden Hicks.  Standing 6’3″, Hicks brings a bigger body to the position. While he is taller than most safeties, he does have the ability to cover ground.

One wild card to keep an eye on is Iowa’s Cooper DeJean. While at Iowa, DeJean was a playmaker at cornerback. Many believe that his game translates to cornerback in the NFL, but he does have the size, 6’0″ 203 pounds, to convert to safety. If Hafley gets creative, he could implement DeJean similar to how the Packers once played Charles Woodson. Not only can DeJean play the boundary, but he could be used in the slot, something the Packers will need in 2024. He suffered a season-ending injury in his last season at Iowa. That might make him available late in the first round when the Packers are on the clock.

Free Agency

We have our doubts that the Packers will be big players in free agency. However, it doesn’t mean that Gutekunst won’t go bargain shopping for a veteran free agent who won’t break the bank. The Packers don’t have much salary cap room, so they will need to be smart on how they spend their money.

Still, if there is a position that Gutekunst might spend a little more on, it is the safety position. If Gutekunst does decide to spend money on a veteran free-agent safety, he will have some solid players to select from. This year’s safety-free agent market has some players that could help bolster the backend of the Green Bay Packers defense.

At 30 years of age, many teams might shy away from former Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons. But if you can get over his age, Simmons would be a great addition to a young secondary. Simmons has 30 career interceptions, with three of them coming last season. He is also a solid tackler, something the Packers are in dire need of after watching Savage struggle so badly throughout his Packers career.

There is another veteran free-agent safety available that Packers fans should recognize immediately. Micah Hyde spent his first four seasons with the Packers. During that time he was miscast as a cornerback. Former general manager Ted Thompson made a mistake by allowing him to walk as a free agent. He was signed by the Buffalo Bills and became an immediate starter at safety. Hyde spent seven seasons with the Bills and chalked up 16 interceptions. He did have issues with injuries the past couple of seasons which led to the Bills parting ways with him. If he can stay healthy, he also might be a solid veteran presence in Hafley’s defense.

In a perfect scenario, the Packers would sign a veteran safety to pair with a young safety. If they can sign Simmons or Hyde, it would be a major step up from the group of Packers safeties they had last season.



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