Today is the 11th day of two weeks of Green Bay Packers coverage leading up to the April 26 beginning of the NFL draft.
April 12: Five best first-rounders in the past 25 years
April 13: Five worst first-rounders in the past 25 years
April 14: Quarterbacks position preview
April 15: Running backsfullbacks position preview
April 16: Offensive tackles position preview
April 17: Guardscenters position preview
April 18: Tight ends position preview
April 19: Wide receivers position preview
April 20: Defensive linemen position preview
April 21: Linebackers position preview
Today: Cornerbacks position preview
April 23: Safeties position preview
April 24: Ted Thompson's draft strategy
April 25: Forecasting the first-round pickTODAY'S POSITION: CORNERBACKSImportance (1-to-10 scale): 6On the rosterVeteran Charles Woodson is still the leader of Green Bay's group of cornerbacks, seven years after signing with the Packers. Even at 35 years old, Woodson doesn't appear to have taken a step back on the field. Instead of using speed and quickness to pick off opposing quarterbacks and stay with wide receivers as he once did, Woodson now relies on savvy and smarts, and that has worked quite well. Though Woodson strongly downplayed the possibility last season, he could soon be playing safety, especially when the day comes that he's just not athletic enough to hang with wide receivers one-on-one on the outside.Tramon Williams, after making the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2010, took a step back last season. However, much of that was due to a shoulder injury suffered in Week 1 that hampered him the rest of the year. That shoulder issue didn't allow Williams to play bump-and-run coverage, which he is very good at -- when healthy. Williams, 29, should have a bounce-back season in 2012.Behind those two starters is Sam Shields and Jarrett Bush. Bush is a nickel back, at best, who played most of the 2011 season only in dime situations and on special teams. The Packers did re-sign Bush this offseason, so there could be bigger plans for him in 2012. Shields had a very strong rookie year in 2010 but was not nearly as good in 2011. Both were formerly undrafted players who general manager Ted Thompson picked up in post-draft free agency.Last five cornerbacks drafted2011: Davon House, New Mexico State: fourth round (131st overall)--still with the Packers
2008: Pat Lee, Auburn: second round (60th overall)--signed with the Raiders, 2012
2006: Will Blackmon, Boston College: fourth round (115th overall)--released in 2010, now with the Giants
2005: Mike Hawkins Oklahoma: fifth round (167th overall)--out of the NFL
2004: Ahmad Carroll, Arkansas: first round (25th overall)--out of the NFLPhilosophy at the positionThompson does not draft cornerbacks often. In his seven drafts with the Packers, the GM has selected only four. The big get at this position was through free agency in 2006, when he signed Woodson. Plus, finding Williams, Shields and Bush as undrafted free agents made them all tremendous pickups. However, sooner or later, Thompson will have to invest in cornerbacks in the draft, especially with Woodson approaching his final years. With the Packers finishing last in the NFL last season in passing yards allowed, even their league-best interception number is not enough to hide the fact that their secondary was destroyed throughout most of last season.Day 1 name to remember (Round 1)Dre Kirkpatrick, senior, Alabama (6-2, 185). Kirkpatrick will likely be selected before the Packers are up at No. 28, but he is the type of top-tier cornerback who could shore up Green Bay's defense in several ways. He's tall and is a very good tackler. While he struggles a bit in pass coverage, his size helps make up for it. If Kirkpatrick slips past Tennessee at No. 20, he could be available for the Packers and would be a tremendous value pick late in the first round.Day 2 name to remember (Rounds 2-3)Josh Robinson, senior, Central Florida (5-10, 199). Robinson is a second-round talent. At No. 58, he would be an excellent choice for the Packers. He's undersized, but his athleticism and speed make up for it. He's not great in the running game, but he has never sustained any significant injuries and had very solid production during his college career. He's the type of young, quality talent that needs to be infused in Green Bay's secondary sooner rather than later. Day 3 name to remember (Rounds 4-7)Dwight Bentley, senior, Louisiana-Lafayette (5-10, 182). A few months ago, Bentley was not a well-known commodity. But after a strong Senior Bowl performance, he is rising on draft boards. If he's available late in the fourth round, it would be somewhat surprising. That was not the case for a long time for the former junior college player, but after being considered "a sleeper" months ago, Bentley is now highly regarded. He plays physical for his smallish size and would be a great addition in the fourth round.FOXSports.com draft expert Taylor Jones says:"Based on my notes, I have cornerback as Green Bay's fourth-biggest priority, behind only outside linebacker, defensive end and running back."Dwight Bentley, not too many people are familiar with him, but he's gained momentum. He could be there in the fourth round."There are some clear-cut first-round picks at corner in this draft, then you have guys that have some character concerns that can drop them into the third day. Those same guys could be early second-round picks. After the top four players (Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Stephen Gilmore, Janoris Jenkins), anything could happen."
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