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Packers offseason preview: Youth rules the cornerback room

Josh Jackson & Jaire Alexander will look to make a big impact in their sophomore campaign.
(Jeff Hanisch/USA Today sports)

The positional previews continue with the cornerbacks. Here’s where the roster stands as of today:

Jaire Alexander (22, second NFL season)

Tramon Williams (35, 13th NFL season)

Kevin King (23, third NFL season)

Josh Jackson (22, second NFL season)

Davon House (29, ninth NFL season)

Bashaud Breeland (27, sixth NFL season)

Tony Brown (23, second NFL season)

Natrell Jamerson (23, second NFL season)

Will Redmond (25, fourth NFL season)

Of all the position groups on defense, the corners stand to make the biggest jump in year two under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine—and they’ll be counting on a host of young talent to do just that.

Despite the ageless Tramon Williams continuing to prove his immortality as he enters his 13th year in the league, the future of the Packers’ cornerback room (hopefully) lies in the hands of Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Kevin King.

After being selected with back-to-back picks in the 2018 draft, Alexander and Jackson were touted as a potential shutdown combo. While Alexander took opponents by storm with his physical play, tight coverage and demonstrative attitude, Jackson struggled a bit to find a consistent role. King, in his second season, confirmed what his rookie campaign seemed to indicate—when he’s on the field, he makes the team better. Staying healthy has troubled him, though, and he’ll need to prove he can be available for the balance of a full season.

Adding to the mix of young athletes is Tony Brown, the Alabama product whose quietly solid play in his rookie season was overshadowed by multiple penalties of the “brain cramp” variety. With the futures of a couple more seasoned veterans in question, Brown will certainly factor into the mix once team activities commence, and could find himself playing a larger role if he continues to impress.

Bashaud Breeland and Davon House, who are both slated to become unrestricted free agents, are the aforementioned seasoned veterans. House played in just three games last season before going on IR with a shoulder injury, though his role was beginning to diminish even before that. Despite his experience, it’s hard to see the Packers bringing him back as anything but a depth signing as they integrate their younger players into feature roles.

Breeland, on the other hand, is a potential free agent bargain. A year ago, Breeland agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Panthers before failing the physical due to an injured foot, leading the Packers to sign him to a one-year deal worth $880,000 on September 25th. While he’ll certainly command more than that on the open market, he’s not likely to see an $8 million per year offer this time around, and Green Bay might like to take advantage of that. At 27, and with only five seasons of wear on his body, Breeland is entering the prime of his career and could play an important role in a group full of eager young bucks.

With the primary roles pretty much fleshed out, any other additions at cornerback would probably be for competition and depth. Other than talking to their own guys, free agency doesn’t seem a likely avenue for Brian Gutekunst to add to the group. It never hurts to add more players to the secondary, though, especially if you think you can find a true playmaker in the draft.

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