Packers Sam Shields: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Sam Shields
Sam Shields

1) Introduction: Packers CB Sam Shields burst onto the scene with a solid rookie season in 2010 despite being an undrafted free agent. What made his performance even more impressive was the fact that he only played one year of cornerback at the University of Miami. (His first three years were spent at wide receiver.) His speed and athleticism have often overshadowed any deficiencies in technique.

2) Profile:

Samuel George Shields III

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 12/08/1987, in Sarasota, FL
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 184
  • College: Miami (FL)
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: It seemed as though a plague bore down on the cornerbacks in 2011. Not only did Tramon Williams suffer a shoulder injury, but Sam Shields’ play was noticeably subpar. Coaches attributed it to his increased responsibilities on the defense, while critics noted his lack of development in technique and unwillingness to be physical in his tackling. Coming into the 2012 season, Shields was in distinct competition for a job, and there was no guarantee he could get the job done.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Sam Shields’ season started off on a low point. He fell to the bottom of the totem pole during training camp, and when the regular season started, it was Jarrett Bush that got the starting position over Shields and the other cornerbacks. An ankle injury against the Houston Texans set him back even further. In spite of this, Shields came back even stronger to finish the season. He notched interceptions in 5 of his final 7 games, the final one for a touchdown.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: He didn’t hit his stride until later in the season, but once he did, Sam Shields seemed to be the best cornerback on the field. He played tight coverage, showed an improvement in technique, made athletic plays on the ball, and showed an improved willingness to tackle the ball carrier. The official statistics have Shields down for five penalties on the year, but many of them were highly dubious pass interference calls. (So much so that it became a running joke.)

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: We have to start by mentioning the “pick six” made by Sam Shields during the San Francisco 49ers’ first drive in the Divisional Round. Though it meant little in the end, it made one heck of a statement to start the game. Shields allowed just 5 passes on 13 targets across both playoff games, for a total of 58 yards. His additional interception against the Vikings gave him a total of two for the postseason.


Season Report Card:

(A-) Level of expectations met during the season

(B-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B+


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


  • Two Bears, One Cup

    Sam must have said something offensive to refs everywhere. Not only did he get phantom interference calls on him, he also got pushed to the turf on the Fail Mary, and there was no call.

  • Stroh

    Very good grade on Shields and a very good season for Shields. He came back this season w/ an aggressiveness he had not had in his career to date. It was a huge factor in his elevating his play again this year. Everyone knew he had the athleticism and coverage ability, the biggest question was whether he would ever be committed to playing w/ the physicality to become a starter and shutdown CB. He showed this season what he can do and that he is willing to be physical not only in coverage, but tackling and taking on RB.

    Literally there is almost no limit to how good he can be. He’s got it all athletically. If he keeps playing physically and being a willing tackler he is an All Pro waiting to happen.

    In the end being so new to playing CB may have helped him. He didn’t have to break old habits and he learned that he still has to play w/ good technique and physicality to succeed. Having played WR should give him a better feel for the route tree and what to expect from a WR in any situation. He came to GB basically a clean slate that the coaches could mold.

    Shields and the coaching staff both get high grades in his development!

    • Ron LC

      As the season progressed he got better and better. At this point he can man up with most receivers. Like most CB’s he’ll need help with the like Megatron. Who doesn’t?

      He overtook Tramon in my opinion. If he continues this development the future is bright for him and the Pack.

      • mike sherman

        Sam is our cover corner of the future. Now that he tackles he is a complete player that should even get better from a coverage stand point. He’s on the smaller side but has all the tools to be a top CB in the league. I expect him to take the opposing teams best WR this year unless Tramon Williams really steps up. With Shields as our top corner, House and Hayward deserving playing time, Tramon will have to be the odd man out, especially at his cap number. Great grade for Shields

  • Al Brown

    Sam needed OTA’s in 2011 more than anybody.

  • James david Marsh

    He has what was needed-size, speed, and a willingness to learn. You cannot teach speed nor size. Now GB needs one more CB to go with Shields, Hayward, and House.

    • Oppy

      Shields is somewhat undersized- not horribly so, but he’s certainly not ideal height and his frame is quite small.

      • Chad Toporski

        He’s a couple inches taller, but about the same weight as Antoine Winfield. Like you said, not sized ideally, though we’ve seen that measurements don’t have to mean much if technique is secure.

        Shields does seem to have a nice vertical, as well as the matching instinct to know when to jump. He’s made some fine plays on the ball when in coverage. He also does well with his closing speed when trailing.

  • Oppy

    When Sam Shields played WR’s honest this year and actually played his assigned man, he looked fantastic.

    When Sam Shields reverted to 2011 form- peeking in the backfield in an attempt to jump a route, and relying on his make-up speed to cover his ass if he lost track of his man- he was sometimes scarey to watch.

    All this kid needs is discipline in his coverage and keep working on his technique. If he spent the next season just playing his assignment, sticking on his man’s hip, instead of peeking and attempting to ball hawk every other down, he would become lethal the following season because QB’s won’t be looking for his head craned 1809 degrees anymore.

    • Oppy

      *180 degrees. Not even Linda Blair could manage 1809 degrees.

    • Stroh

      I didn’t see much peaking at all this year. I saw a guy who very much played his responsibility and played w/in the scheme. I don’t see discipline as a problem for Shields at all.

      • Oppy

        I saw him peaking frequently, although it was not nearly as much as 2011.

        • Stroh

          Shields regressed in ’11 mostly due to the fact he was sheltered in ’10 and only asked to play man coverage on the outside. In ’11 he wasnt’ sheltered and was asked to play all kinds of coverages that he wasn’t ready for. He was totally unfamiliar w/ zone coverage and in ’11 due to Tramons shoulder, we were forced to play alot of zone, which made Shields also more vulnerable. With a year under his belt he has a better understanding of how to play zone. He’ll always be better in man tho. Any peaking he did was probably when he had zone responsibilities. But in zone your supposed to watch the QB’s eyes quite a bit. Man you focus solely on playing the man until the ball is in the air, so peaking isn’t all that possible in man coverage.

          That and his not playing phsical were his biggest issues in ’11. Both were much better in ’12 tho.