The Green Bay Packers recently wrapped up their rookie mini camp and much of the buzz surrounded second round cornerback Quinten Rollins. He made a few nice interceptions, one of which came against another rookie, quarterback Brett Hundley, and would have likely been taken back for a score in a game. It was just a brief display of what Rollins can do and it was against other players who have never played a snap at the pro level, but as they say, practice like you play.
If this practice was any indication of what more we can expect from Rollins as the Packers kick off their organized team activities (OTA’s) and then in training camp in late July, they may have found another second-round winner.
That Rollins was around the ball was no surprise. After returning to football four years after he put the game to the side to focus on basketball, Rollins totaled seven interceptions for Miami (Ohio) this past season. That helped him take home the MAC conference defensive player of the year award as well. Much has been made about Rollins’ athletic ability (5’11”, 195 pounds, 4.57-40, 36.5 inch vertical and 122 inch broad jump), but that type of production isn’t just a fluke. MAC competition isn’t comparable to the major conferences like the Big 10, Pac 12 or SEC, but NFL scouts are looking for guys who can make plays. Rollins proved to be that guy in 2014.
We often see players who were very good in college come in and struggle at the pro level. For one reason or another, their game just doesn’t translate as cleanly to the NFL. In listening to Rollins speak and watching him play, it’s apparent that he has learned to carry himself well in life. In a nice write up by former Packers safety Matt Bowen at Bleacher Report, he discusses how Rollins grew up without a father in his life and had a child of his own during college. He still graduated in four years. Another example of results that can’t happen by accident.
When this year’s free agency period started, many eyes were on the Packers and what they would do with veteran corners Tramon Williams and Davon House. It didn’t seem likely that Green Bay would lose both. But they did and suddenly, a position of recent strength became a need. The Packers addressed this with their first two picks, adding Rollins in round two after having selected Arizona State safety Damarious Randall in round one. We have yet to see either of these players in live action, but it appears as though the Packers personnel department had their eye on possible replacements for the departed cornerbacks.
With Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Demetri Goodson already on the depth chart, it’s no certainty that Rollins can crack a starting spot. It’s possible, but head coach Mike McCarthy tends to stick with his veterans unless they have a terrible training camp or one of the rookies performs off the charts. Rollins could very easily be one of those guys this year. His versatility allowed him to play both outside and inside last season and the Packers would be wise to figure out if he can cut it at either spot. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discussed Rollins on a recent podcast and even mentioned the possibility that he could see some time at safety. If the team has the unfortunate problem of too many good defensive backs at a time, they would be wise to get them all on the field in some capacity. Rollins will most certainly be contributing on special teams, if nothing else.
I try to stay away from making the obvious mistake of anointing a rookie player a sure thing this early in the offseason, but there’s just something about Rollins that inspired me to write this piece and stake my claim. Barring injury and by season’s end, we will be talking plenty about yet another successful rookie campaign by a second-round stud for the Green Bay Packers.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: