There has been a lot of speculation this offseason surrounding the Green Bay Packers safety position. The consensus all along has been that the Packers would either pick a safety early in the draft or sign one in free agency to fill the spot next to Morgan Burnett, but according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, that won’t necessarily be the case.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at the NFL Owner’s Meetings, McCarthy once again talked about how he feels that second-year defensive back Micah Hyde deserves the opportunity to be an every down player for the Green Bay defense.
Here is what McCarthy told reporters courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“As far as Micah Hyde, I’m going to say it again, make sure we’re clear: Micah Hyde deserves the opportunity to be an every-down player on our defense,” McCarthy said at the NFL owners meetings. “And as we go into 2014, that’s our responsibility as a coaching staff to create those competitive opportunities for him to get that done.
“I got to a point in the season where Micah was standing on the sidelines too much. He’s a good football player and I thought he deserved the opportunity to compete to play. And it’s tough to do when you’re a rookie because you get into camp and you’re trying to build packages … We’re going to give Micah the opportunity to play on all three downs – whether that’s corner, nickel, dime, safety, that’s the versatility I think he brings to our football team.”
Hyde, a fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa, played in all 16 games for the Packers last season, starting three games but seeing the majority of his snaps at the nickel corner position.
The former Hawkeye struggled at times in coverage but overall he was a pleasant surprise for the Packers defense and totaled 45 tackles, forced two fumbles, registered a sack and defensed three passes.
Since his arrival in Green Bay, there has been talk of shifting him to safety in part because he lacks top end speed and also because he brings a physical presence to the defense and is a solid tackler.
Furthermore, the Packers are already loaded at corner with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward all set to return next season, which means if Hyde stayed at corner he would be competing with Hayward for the nickel position. So it makes sense that McCarthy would want to find a way to get both players on the field at the same time.
When asked directly about the safety spot, McCarthy didn’t seem to be overly concerned and Hyde’s potential move to safety may be the reason why.
“We’ve got a lot of time,” McCarthy said. “Could it be Micah? Chris Banjo? Free agency’s still going on, we’ve got the draft coming up. We do a great job working with the guys when they get here. Once again, we’re not going to line up with 11 guys on defense and everybody’s going to play their position. I’m looking for players who can play different positions, give us more flexibility.
“And we’ve got to be, which we already have, Dom (Capers), I mean, the scheme’s there. We’re not putting a whole lot of scheme in. If anything, we’re taking things out. We want to get really good at the creative things that we have and make sure we’re utilizing as many of our defensive players as possible.”
It will be interesting to see how things play out but from the perspective of the Packers Guru, there is more than enough talent in the secondary to get by with Williams, Hayward, Shields, Hyde and Morgan Burnett. A safety should be added at some point through the draft or free agency but I’m buying what McCarthy is selling about Hyde being a full-time player for the Packers defense in 2014.