Those are just a few of many things that could have been said about the Packers’ secondary in 2017. It seems like the story hasn’t changed in the past few years. The secondary always has one or two solid players such as Sam Shields or Morgan Burnett, but they try to make up for the rest of the secondary. Lately, it has been Damarious Randall showing up. But who else? The Packers absolutely need to address their pass rushing force on defense in the upcoming draft, and new GM Brian Gutekunst has a big decision to make. There is no doubt that the cornerback position is a close second to the needs of the pass rush. One guy who could make a difference on the Packers’ defense is Isaiah Oliver.
Oliver is a pure athlete. He is not the type of athlete that finds one sport and sticks to it throughout his career. In high school, he was a decathlete. He competed in the 100-meter dash, 110-hurdles, and in the long jump. In high school, Oliver was a two-time state champ in hurdles. There is no doubt that Oliver has exceptional talent and athleticism. His all-around skill set has helped him succeed on the football field. Oliver has good size that allows him to disrupt passing routes. Scouts have called him explosive and fast. His larger build for a cornerback could bring upside for the Packers. It is almost a mystery still on how Mike Pettine’s defense is going to operate, but if Dom Capers were still around, Oliver would for sure have a look at the nitro package. He is built like a cornerback, with enough athleticism to be placed in different positions. He could be a Morgan Burnett style player.
Oliver isn’t the most disciplined of an athlete. It is not that he doesn’t have a solid work ethic, which he does. It is that he has trouble breaking down his speed. Once he arrives for a tackle, it almost looks like he should have hit the breaks a little earlier. It could be due to his larger size for a cornerback, but he isn’t the sharpest runner either. It seems like he needs a little extra time to get turned around, and isn’t the most versatile player either. Aside from that, he isn’t the best tackler on the field, but with enough coaching and enough practice, that could be turned around.
When will he be drafted?
He will be drafted in the upper half of the draft for sure. It would be surprising if he would still be on the draft board come the third round, and it would make sense for a team to take him within the first two rounds if not the first.
How does he fit with the Packers?
Isaiah Oliver could absolutely fit with the Packers. He could be more of a hybrid player, one that could play a linebacking position, along with secondary. Playing as a linebacker wouldn’t be a starting role, but new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine at least has the option to think about using Oliver in multiple ways. As far as upside for Oliver, there is plenty. One NFL Draft evaluator wrote: “He has the size and athletic makeup to be a No. 1 outside corner in the NFL.” Now if that is true and Oliver pans out to be a No. 1 corner, he could be an absolute steal for the Packers. With a multi-sport athlete in Oliver, the Packers could really score here.