Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers loves chess pieces on his defense. Since he arrived in Green Bay, he has tried to find ways to use his players in creative ways.
In 2010, he had the ultimate chess piece in Charles Woodson. He lined Woodson up at outside cornerback, in the slot, and at safety. Woodson’s ability to play all over the field helped propel the Packers to a Super Bowl victory.
In 2014, he maximized Clay Matthews’ versatility as well. Matthews went from a player who lined up solely on the edge to someone who lined up all over the defense. On early downs, he played at inside linebacker. In pass rush situations, he would move back to his natural outside linebacker position to terrorize opposing quarterbacks.
That move put the Packers within one game of the Super Bowl.
Last season, Capers used Micah Hyde and Morgan Burnett in hybrid roles. Neither player was as effective as the aforementioned players, but both found some success in different positions in the defense.
Haason Reddick is a versatile player who may be a Packers target in this year’s NFL draft. He played the majority of his time at Temple as an edge rusher, but many believe that he should move to off-ball linebacker in the NFL.
There are some questions as to how he would hold up as a full-time edge rusher in the NFL. At 237 pounds, he would likely have to add weight to set the edge in the run game. If he does that, it could sap some of the burst that helps make him the player that he is.
He does some good things in coverage when he was asked him to drop into zone coverage. He’s fluid with his hips and able to run with most running backs and tight ends.
Still, he has the ability to win with burst and speed off the edge should he be asked to rush the quarterback. Once he arrives at the quarterback, he’s finishes well.
His issue is that he’s undersized by an NFL standard and may not have enough pass rush moves to succeed as a full-time edge defender.
From the Packers standpoint, they need to add more speed to their defense. It’s evident that they believe the same based on the players they allowed to walk this offseason.
Micah Hyde was a versatile player, but slow and limited athletically. He left for Buffalo without being offered a contract. Julius Peppers was not offered a contract. He was productive in Green Bay, but they felt he was past his prime.
The Packers are looking to get younger and more explosive. Reddick would certainly fit that bill.
He also offers a bit of intrigue as a running mate with Matthews. The Packers have discussed moving Matthews all over the defense in 2017. This is a change from 2016, where they insisted he was strictly an outside linebacker.
Matthews moving all over the defense gives them a chess piece that the opposing offense has to find and account for. Reddick would allow the Packers to be even more versatile on defense. They could line up Reddick and Matthews in a multitude of ways depending on the situation.
That would give Capers the unpredictability that made Green Bay’s defense great when the team won the Super Bowl seven seasons ago.
On his own, Reddick gives the Packers athleticism in the middle of their defense that they simply don’t have. Joe Thomas is probably the most athletic linebacker in the middle, and he is little more than an average player.
The Packers have not valued this position but could spring for Reddick because of his ability to play multiple positions.