Final grades: Safeties get a D and it’s not for defense


Bob McGinn


Tenth of an 11-part position-by-position series in which the 69 players on the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster, reserve/injured and reserve/did not report lists at the end of the season are graded. Playing-time percentages are for offense and defense only.


Kentrell Brice (60.7%): Given first crack at becoming Morgan Burnett’s successor, Brice could hardly have had a worse season. In the first six games he was at least partially responsible for touchdown passes of 75 (Stefon Diggs), 46 (Paul Richardson) and 67 (Marquise Goodwin) yards.
After Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was traded, Brice got hurt in the next game. Soon thereafter, the Packers tried to get him off the field until a plethora of injuries to other players forced him back into the lineup for much of the final month. In all, Brice allowed 5 ½ touchdown passes, a team high, and five plays of 20 yards or more. Last season, in 27.4% playing time, he yielded just two 20-plus plays and no TD passes. After three seasons the Packers should know what Brice is. Despite phenomenal testing numbers he just can’t play the game. At 5-11 ½, Brice plays too big for his body and is always getting hurt. He missed 10 games with groin and ankle injures in 2017, then was knocked out of three games and sat out two more with knee and ankle problems this year. With his tremendous power through the hips and exceptional courage, Brice can and does knock ball carriers back. But he’s really just a hitter, not a tackler. He doesn’t run through the ball carrier and thus ends up whiffing too often. Brice missed 15 tackles, a total second on the team to Blake Martinez and nine more than he had a year ago. He marches to his own drummer, blows assignments and can be overly sensitive to criticism. His ball skills and deep reaction ability are lacking. He defensed just one pass every 215.3 snaps, a rate almost three times worse than what he produced in 2017. As weak as the Packers are at safety, there’s little reason to make Brice an offer as a restricted free agent. Grade: F.

Ibraheim Campbell (10.5%): Just when Campbell was earning extensive playing time, if not a starting job at safety, he suffered a knee injury in Game 12 and was lost for the season. What Tyler Lancaster was to the defensive line, Campbell might have become to the secondary. That is, an unheralded free agent with a legitimate future. Arriving on waivers from the Jets at mid-season, Campbell played 13, 53 and 46 snaps in his three games before going down. In the end, Campbell led the safeties in tackles per snap (one every 5.6) and didn’t miss a tackle. At the same time, he didn’t give up anything of substance in coverage. A four-year starter at Northwestern, Campbell was drafted in the fourth round by the Browns because of his toughness, moxie (Wonderlic of 26), adequate physical skills and love for the game. Yes, Green Bay was Campbell’s fifth team, but that doesn’t hide the fact he displayed value from scrimmage and special teams in much the same vein that Jermaine Whitehead did before his release on Nov. 6. Campbell will be an unrestricted free agent in March. It wouldn’t cost much to bring him back. Grade: C.

Raven Greene (4.0%): An undrafted rookie from James Madison, Greene surged in late August to beat out a passel of veterans for the final berth in the secondary. After watching early and then playing special teams only for six games, he played 30 snaps at safety in Game 9 and 14 more in Game 10 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. The Packers would have had a good read on Greene because he definitely would have played down the stretch. Greene lacks height (5-11) but has 4.53 speed and demonstrates adequate range out of center field. It looked as if he communicated better and reacted faster than Kentrell Brice or Josh Jones as well. Like Campbell, he didn’t miss a tackle or allow a substantial gain in coverage. He also finished fourth on special teams in tackles per snap (one every 26.8). The sample size from scrimmage (43 snaps) is small but Greene has a chance to become a capable backup. Grade: D.

Josh Jones (47.1%): Before Clinton-Dix was traded, Whitehead was cut and Brice was found lacking all Jones did was play special teams (two penalties in the first eight games; he had five in the kicking game as a rookie). Defensively, the Packers didn’t trust him to follow assignments and be in the right place at the right time. In the last nine games Jones played 82.2% of the snaps, giving Mike Pettine a long look at the Packers’ second-round draft choice in 2017. It wasn’t encouraging. Jones looks good and tests great, but he doesn’t think well on his feet and needs constant direction. In a straight line, he runs very well. But the Packers have discovered that he’s a stiff-hipped athlete who struggles to change direction. In turn, he can’t provide consistent coverage. Despite playing extensively at inside linebacker, Jones didn’t have a tackle for loss. He missed eight tackles, one more than as a rookie, and was responsible for 3 ½ plays of 20 yards or more and 1 ½ TD passes. He did improve his rate of tackles per snap from one every 10.4 to one every 8.4. Jones is a liability in the post. He does provide a degree of physical play near the line, but certainly not enough to count on as a starter in 2019. Grade: D.

Eddie Pleasant (8.1%): The revolving door at safety opened for Pleasant Nov. 28 with Campbell and Greene out of commission. He was issued jersey No. 35, a rarity in that it also had been Whitehead’s number in the regular season. In fact, Pleasant was similar to Campbell and Whitehead: marginal range, better in the box. Pressed into service three days after arrival because of the injury to Campbell, Pleasant dropped a pass lobbed into his arms in the waning minutes by Arizona’s Josh Rosen. If Pleasant makes that interception, the Packers beat the Cardinals and Mike McCarthy probably lasts the entire season. A valued special-teamer for six years in Houston, Pleasant is a tough guy and has always loved to play. However, he kept messing up, whiffing on an easy sack of Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago on a play that ruptured into 23 yards and allowing Zach Zenner to go 30 yards on a screen in the finale. Pleasant is what he is at 30, a band-aid as a football player ready for his next career in life. Grade: D-minus.

Tramon Williams (99.5%): No one could say he didn’t earn his money in Year 1 of his two-year, $10 million contract ($3.5M guaranteed). Of the Packers’ 1,064 snaps on defense, the old pro was out there for 1,059. In the first six games, he started outside at corner. In Game 7, he manned the slot so Jaire Alexander could join Kevin King outside. Two days later, when Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was traded and the Packers were hemorrhaging home-run balls, Williams basically played free safety the rest of the year. With Williams displaying his trademark discipline the deep ball into the middle of the field basically went away. He stayed deep as the deepest almost to a fault. On the other hand, Williams didn’t make any plays. Besides nary an interception for the first time in his 13-year career, he finished last among the safeties in passes defensed per snap (one every 264.8). He also didn’t tackle well. He missed 10, which was second to Brice at the position, and provided too much hidden yardage by excessive back-tracking against break-out plays and not taking a stand. Williams, who will be 36 in March, certainly will honor his contract for 2019 and perform to the best of his ability. For an extra cornerback-safety, the Packers could do worse. Grade: C.

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Draft Guru
2018 Draft Guru
Ugh, you pretty much want to just dump the bunch of them.

I guess you bring back Jones, Campbell and Greene because they are cheap and easy to cut after camp. A little bit of a tough decision on Tramon. I'd bring him back because he can give you snaps at CB as well as safety and he's "available". Draft one and bring in a FA and let things sort themselves out in camp.


There is such a lack of talent on DEF despite all those picks over last three years.. It's embarrassing..


The TT of the last 4-5 years was not the same TT as of the first 7-8 years.

Sort of reminds me of the Wizard of OZ.


View attachment 91
MM and TT were very similar in that they refused to adapt as the NFL changed. That was their greatest strength and their greatest weakness, their unwavering belief in their "system"