The Packers drastically changed how they use their strong safeties last season, sending starting safety, Morgan Burnett into the thick of the battle field. He was asked to do everything, from guarding tight ends and running backs dashing to the flat, to getting physical with the opposing line, trying to help in the run game.
Apparently, the coaching staff loved what they saw, as it’s long been reported by Wes Hodkiewicz, they intend to keep their starting safety in this role. After the first day of camp, Marty Kauffman of packerswire reports, “The inside linebacker position had a big rotation on Thursday, with safeties Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones seeing time with the regular inside backers.”
The hybrid safety-linebacker position is growing up before our eyes. And oh is the little one talented, he could become something in this crazy world.
- Morgan Burnett: The eighth-year safety out of Georgia Tech is being asked to hold his weight for his defense more than ever. He didn’t have a career year last season, but it was possibly his most impactful role yet.
Burnett, who has always done a nice job of bringing down the offensive player in the open field with high hopes of reaching the endzone, still managed to record 93 total tackles and a career high three sacks in his new role.
Not only will he be asked to do more than ever, but he’s also impactful in mentoring the talented rookie Josh Jones.
- Josh Jones: Jones, who I also listed as the primary back up to HaHa Clinton-Dix at Free Safety, is being molded to fit in the same hybrid position as Burnett. The Packers have a very talented rookie on their hands, but are without an obvious starting position for him. If a spot at either safety position opens due to injury, definitely expect Jones to get the nod as the replacement.
The NC State product will be able to play both roles, he has the speed and strength to play the hybrid role. But he also has the playmaking ability to step back into HaHa’s center field role, as he had eight interceptions over three seasons in Raleigh, NC.
- Marwin Evans: The former Utah State Aggie made the team last season after an impressive preseason. He stuck with the team as a special teams player, recording six tackles for his rookie season. The special teams are looking at a lot of personnel change, giving Evans a good chance at making the final roster to give the special team’s unit his experience.
The Wisconsin native is another great preseason away from perhaps cementing himself on the roster. The Packers love to keep a hard working defensive back who plays special teams, with the ability to step in and play in emergency. Say what you will about Jarrett Bush, but he was a good gunner on special teams, and stepped in for an injured Charles Woodson in the Super Bowl. Keep an eye on Evans.
- Aaron Taylor: The undrafted rookie out of Ball State is another candidate to sub into the hybrid safety-linebacker role. He has a similar physical build to Josh Jones, standing 5’11” and 206 pounds, with impressive athleticism to boot. He certainly looked like the older brother in the MAC conference his senior season.
Taylor played linebacker in college, tallying 85 tackles and 1.5 sacks. However, his athleticism allows him to get to the perimeter, which gives him a chance of growing into the hybrid role.
The MAC loves to spread the field. He proved that he can read the bubble screen, then attack