Packers Inside Linebackers: This group severely lacked playmakers. The coaching staff was forced to lean on A.J. Hawk, who has lost significant speed in the last few years. And now with the losses of Hawk and Brad Jones, the only inside linebacker on the roster is the very green Sam Barrington.
Where are we now:
Here is the current suspect:
Sam Barrington (7th Round, 2013)
This is the reason the Packers were ranked 23rd in rushing defense by allowing nearly 120 yards a game last year. This unit had trouble tackling, couldn’t shed blocks quick enough and displayed mediocre coverage skills.
- A.J. Hawk: The continued downslide ran its course as a Packer. Hawk may have a coach’s acumen, but has lost the ability to play at a high level. Even football instincts betrayed him at the end of the season.
- Brad Jones: He came into the season with plenty of promise, but the wheels quickly came off the bus. Unlike Hawk, who saw his physical gifts slowly evaporate, Jones made a number of mind-numbing plays that made the entire Packer Nation go batty. He was called for five of the seven penalties that the inside linebackers were flagged for.
- Jamari Lattimore: Injuries really rendered him useless this year, but the Packers saw enough that they don’t want to see him in the near future.
- Sam Barrington: The seventh round pick has shown promise. He may not possess the traits of a polished linebacker. He’s not overly fast, but he isn’t afraid to put his head in the pile and deliver a punishing hit.
Where we want to be:
With zero depth right now, it would behoove the Packers’ brass to draft this position early and often. The Packers need to establish an identity. They just need to get tougher. They have to send a message to opposing teams that they will not be allowed to run it like they did last year. And if they run it down the middle, they’re going to pay the price.
How do we get there?
There are plenty of solid inside linebackers in the upcoming draft. Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney and Michigan State’s Taiwan Jones are two guys that aren’t afraid to deliver a hit that will likely be around when the Packers draft in the first round (30th overall) and third round (94th overall).——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn