Found March 26, 2013 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Buffalo-bills-green-bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. Morgan Burnett will start at safety for the Green Bay Packers next season, just like he has for every game of the past two seasons. That's not in question for coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers in planning next year's team. Finding a starter to play next to Burnett at safety, however, is an issue that the Packers need to address this offseason. Following the release of veteran Charles Woodson -- who had been converted to safety -- in mid-February, Green Bay's current choices are M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and Sean Richardson. Richardson, who was signed in 2012 after not being drafted, is a project. His 6-foot-2, 216-pound frame is the biggest of any of the Packers' safeties, but he battled injuries throughout his entire rookie year and only played 16 snaps on defense. Though he could be a special player in the NFL, expecting too much out of him early in his career would be a mistake. If nothing changes between now and training camp, the competition to determine the other starting safety next to Burnett would ultimately be between Jennings and McMillian. Each player offers different positives and negatives. McMillian is an aggressive big-hitter but struggles in coverage. Jennings is fast and better in coverage but doesn't bring nearly the same physical presence as McMillian. Of course, having flaws on the field isn't unique to McMillian and Jennings. Even Burnett has areas he needs to improve on. But going into next season depending on McMillian or Jennings to be starters and significant contributors on Green Bay's defense would be asking a lot of two young, relatively inexperienced players. "I thought McMillian was a splash player at times," McCarthy said at the Scouting Combine. "For a young guy, he was inconsistent, but I really like his skill set. I like his work ethic. He has some toughness. He has the ability to make impact plays. "M.D., I thought definitely took a big step moving forward. He needs to get stronger. At the end of the day, he graded out probably a little bit higher than I would have thought. "The most important part of both of those guys is they have a lot of growth in front of them." Can McMillian, a fourth-round pick in 2012, improve his consistency? There's little reason to believe he couldn't. Can Jennings get stronger? He's light for the position at 195 pounds, but his body might allow for some extra bulk eventually. It's not that either player couldn't potentially make drastic improvements this offseason and be ready to start alongside Burnett in 2013. It could happen. But it would be a risky decision by general manager Ted Thompson to not have a better option in place for his coaching staff. That's where Thompson's specialty, the NFL Draft, comes into play. This year's class of safeties is terrific. The group is headlined by Kenny Vaccaro, a very talented 6-foot-1 player out of Texas. Vaccaro is too good to be around when it's the Packers' turn at No. 26, but the next tier of safeties is still tremendous. There's Matt Elam out of Florida, whose only significant weakness is his size at 5-foot-10. Aside from that, Elam does just about everything well. He would become an instant starter on Green Bay's defense and should be available late in the first round. Eric Reid of LSU is big, physical and likes to hit. Like McMillian, though, he struggles in coverage at times. Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International is good in pass coverage and in stopping the run, but he didn't play against major competition in college. One of these four players (Vaccaro, Elam, Reid, Cyprien) should be on the Packers' roster by the end of the first or second round. Safety is the team's biggest area of need and not addressing it in the draft with a class of players this good could prove costly. Thompson shouldn't have to be thinking about drafting a safety. He thought Nick Collins would be an instrumental player in Green Bay for another decade. But an unfortunate neck injury seemingly ended the career of the three-time Pro Bowl safety right in Collins' prime. That leaves the Packers in need of finding Collins' replacement 18 months after he was carted off the field in Carolina. The upcoming draft offers a perfect chance for Thompson to add a great safety prospect like Vaccaro, Elam, Reid or Cyprien. These are not project players. These are players capable of starting 16 games as rookies and performing at a high level, just like safety Harrison Smith (the 29th overall pick in the 2012 draft) did for the Minnesota Vikings. This is the perfect year for the Packers to be in need of a safety. Burnett's future partner at safety is out there, ready and able to give Green Bay's secondary the boost that it needs and help the Packers recover from the devastating setback that Collins' neck injury has created in their defense. Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Packers sign kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

According to John Breech of CBS Sports, the Green Bay Packers have signed kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who spent some time with the 49ers last season. After a shaky 2012 season for Mason Crosby, it looks like the Packers plan on having him compete for his job going into next season.   Need NFL Tickets? var _CI = _CI || {}; (function() { var script = document.createElement('...

McCarthy wants Cobb off special teams

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jeremy Ross had his chance as the Packers' new return specialist in the postseason. A muffed punt in a critical moment of a playoff game may have made Ross a former Packers' return specialist. Ross could get another shot next season, but one thing is certain: Randall Cobb's days on special teams are over. "I hope (Cobb) is not playing (special...

Eighth Packers' Tailgate Tour set for May

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers will set out on their eighth-annual 'Tailgate Tour' in May. This years event will make four stops in Wisconsin, traveling to Oshkosh (May 14), Beloit (May 15), Tomah (May 17) and Wisconsin Rapids (May 18). In addition, for the first time ever, the Tailgate Tour will stop in Iowa, scheduled for Dubuque on May 16. The current Packers players who...

A.J. Hawk took a $2 million pay cut to stay in Green Bay

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Packers’ linebacker A.J. Hawk recently received a $2.21 million roster bonus after agreeing to take a $2 million pay cut this season. Hawk will now get paid $3.6 million in 2013, instead of the $5.45 he was scheduled to make. Hawk seems to always step up and sacrifice for the Packers.  in 2010 he was released and then re-siged at a lower...

Finley receives roster bonus, stays with Pack

GREEN BAY, Wis. Tight end Jermichael Finley will still be with the Green Bay Packers for the 2013 season. Finley was due to receive a 3 million roster bonus if still on the team by the end of Monday's NFL business hours. After the deadline passed, Finley announced on his Twitter account that he will remain in Green Bay for next season. "Ecstatic 2 b back w the Packers...

Jermichael Finley says he’ll be playing for the Packers in 2013

We just reported that the Green Bay Packers are uncomfortable with tight end Jermichal Finley’s contract, but clearly they’re comfortable enough to pay him a $3 million roster bonus, since they didn’t release him before 4 PM eastern time today. Finley announced on Twitter that he isn’t going anywhere, he’ll be playing for the Packers in 2013. Ecstatic 2 b back w @packers...

Packers hang on to Finley

The Green Bay Packers are hanging onto tight end Jermichael Finley. The Packers had to cut the mercurial tight end before 4 p.m. EDT Monday to avoid paying a $3 million roster bonus. After the deadline passed, Finley said on Twitter, ''Ecstatic 2 b back w (at)packers. Best place on earth.'' Finley set a Packers record for receptions (61) by a tight end last season...

Packers Likely To Keep TE Jermichael Finley Despite $3M Roster Bonus

Ian Rapoport reports that Packers TE Jermichael Finley has a $3 million roster bonus due on Wednesday. Rapoport mentions that he expects to see the Packers keep Finley, but believes Green Bay could still approach him regarding a pay cut. Finley, 25, has an $8.25 million salary coming his way this season, which is also the final year of his current contract. Green Bay has some...

Jermichael Finley Gets $3 Million Roster Bonus, will remain with Packers

The Green Bay Packers made a surprise decision today. For weeks it had been assumed that the team would part ways with the their mercurial tight end. NFL.com is reporting that the Packers paid Finley a $3 million roster bonus and the tight end will make $8.25 million this season. Finley seemed ecstatic judging by his twitter post. Ecstatic 2 b back w @packers. Best place on earth...

Jermichael Finley to Stay with Packers

The tight end class of free agents for the 2013 offseason was deep even before the possibility of Jermichael Finley being released by the Green Bay Packers came up a few months ago. The class included talented pass catchers such as Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, and Dustin Keller. Today Finley was due a $3 million roster bonus and the Packers let it pass without cutting the 5 year...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.