Let’s admit it, few tears were shed by Green Bay Packers fans over the announcement that Micah Hyde had signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills. It’ a five-year deal for $30 million, with $14 million guaranteed.
But I keep thinking about it: the Packers are thought to be in desperate need of bolstering their cornerback corps. So they let a veteran entering his prime walk? Hyde has four years’ experience with Green Bay’s defensive system, is a very versatile player, a fine tackler, a playmaker, one who has improved every year, one who has been injury-resistant, one who has performed consistently and competently, and one who did not command a high salary. Hyde is not a shutdown cornerback, but it was proven in 2016 that the Packers need depth as well as a starter in the mold of a Sam Shields.
I’d like to ask Ted Thompson where he is going to find a replacement for Hyde.
Free Agent Cornerbacks
Given the Packers’ needs at cornerback, they are obviously looking at free agent prospects. Until Hyde was chosen, here are the top free agent CBs (and we’re not counting Sam Shields):
- Morris Claiborne, Dallas, age 27, 4.43 40-yard dash, 5’11”, 192; 7 starts, 26 tackles, 1 INT, and 5 PDs
- Micah Hyde, Green Bay, 26, 4.51, 6’, 197; 11 starts, 45 tackles, 3 INT, 9 PDs
- Terence Newman, Minnesota, 38, 4.37, 5’10”, 197; 9 starts, 33 tackles, 1 INT, 8 PDs
- Sterling Moore, New Orleans, 27, 4.54, 5’ 10”, 202; 12 starts, 44 tackles 2 INT, 13 PDs
- Leon Hall, New York Giants, 32, 4.39, 5’11”, 195; 2 starts, 31 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PDs
Just based on the above data, each of these players has one or more weakness: age, speed, size, etc. I would certainly argue that there is no one left on the free agent market who would be an improvement over Micah Hyde – and as the youngest of the six players, Hyde has the best long-term prospects.
Draft Outlook for Cornerbacks
The football gurus are saying it’s a sensational year for cornerbacks coming out of college. Pro Football Focus has forecast that seven CBs will be chosen in the first round and that 10 of the first 38 picks will likely be cornerbacks. But here’s the order in which PFF expects cornerbacks to be chosen: overall picks 7, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 34, 37 and 38.
First round forecasts of this kind invariably turn out to closely mirror the actual choices. The Packers have the 29th pick in this year’s draft. See the problem? It’s very conceivable that other teams will have already chosen the top seven cornerbacks before the Packers’ number comes up. There appears to be a big drop off in talent between the top seven corners and the second-tier corners. If so, the Packers will be faced with missing out on all the top-tier cornerbacks and having to take a consensus second-round-quality corner with their first-round pick.
I can think of only one way out of the hole Green Bay has dug itself into: trade up to somewhere around selection 15 to 20.