An Increased Role for Chandon Sullivan Awaits

Chandon Sullivan was a pleasant surprise last season for the Green Bay Packers and now a bigger role awaits him in 2020. 

Behind every successful NFL team are contributions from unexpected players. For the 2019 Green Bay Packers that added production came from Allen Lazard and Chandon Sullivan. 

After being a four-year starter at Georgia State, Sullivan was an undrafted free agent in 2018 that signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. During his rookie season he would appear in five games, including one start, with a majority of his snaps taking place between Weeks 10 and 12. Not to mention that nearly half of his 140 total snaps came on special teams. 

But for an undrafted rookie, even making a final roster is a success, let alone seeing meaningful playing time. Unfortunately, even with Philadelphia's need at the cornerback position, they let go of Sullivan during the 2019 offseason. However, as they say, one team's loss is another team's gain.

Well, Sullivan ended up being a huge gain for the Green Bay Packers. 

From Week 4 and on, Sullivan would see steady playing time. In fact, in seven of the final 13 regular-season games, he would take at least 40 snaps, including two games with over 60. And Sullivan ended up posting some crazy good defensive numbers when he was on the field.

For the season, Sullivan was targeted 36 times and allowed a completion percentage of just 41.7 percent and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of only 43.1 when throwing his direction. On top of that he didn't give up a single touchdown or penalty, and he only missed one tackle all season while also coming away with an interception in Dallas. Which of course, Sullivan gets bonus points for it being in Dallas against the Cowboys.

Even better, Sullivan was a reliable tackler, missing just one tackle in 2019 and showing that he can contribute against the run as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Sullivan's run-stop percentage ranked as the ninth-best among all NFL cornerbacks that played at least 20 percent of their team's defensive snaps.  

No, that isn't a large sample size by any means but you can't deny the numbers that Sullivan posted either. They were some of the best in the NFL. 

As we look ahead to this upcoming season, Sullivan's role is likely going to increase, especially with Tramon Williams still unsigned in free agency. For much of the 2019 season, Williams was the Packers nickel corner but Sullivan took 145 snaps there as well and as illustrated above, he was quite effective. 

Now the position heading into training camp is up for grabs and after the draft, GM Brian Gutekunst mentioned that Sullivan along with Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, and Josh Jackson were all options to fill that need. While that may be true, at this point in time, I have to think that Sullivan is the favorite.

I have no doubt that Alexander would be a successful nickel corner but with hardly any experienced options to play out wide, Green Bay is better off keeping him on the boundaries against the opponents No. 1 receiver. Meanwhile, with Savage's versatility and ability to fly around the field, you'd have to think the Packers would rather let him roam than lock him into one specific role. And we've still seen little evidence that Josh Jackson can hold his own in man coverage. 

Sure, we may see each of those players lining up in the slot this season at various times, however, it's Sullivan's job for the taking. Although he isn't limited to that position either. During training camp and the preseason, it was Sullivan's ability to line up just about anywhere and still make plays that caught the attention of the coaching staff. 

Former Defensive Backs Coach, Jason Simmons had this to say about Sullivan last season:

"He made plays everywhere," Simmons said. "When you have a guy who could be that versatile, I don't care who goes down. I just say, 'Hey Chandon, go in there.' He's mentally prepared to handle it and then his physical skill set can handle all the positions we have."

Overall this is a very inexperienced Packers' cornerback room that has Kevin King - who is in Year 4 - as the most experienced player on the roster. This means there are a lot of unknowns and if Chandon Sullivan can build upon his 2019 performance and emerge as Green Bay's go-to slot corner, it will go a long way in solidifying this Green Bay secondary. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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Comments (14)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
mnbadger's picture

June 05, 2020 at 01:17 pm

Thank you for sharing CS's stats. We've been told that he's good, but the stats speak louder than people's opinions.
This is hopefully one of the rays of sunshine our defense needs. GPG

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 05, 2020 at 10:49 pm

A great player for Georgia State. They had a top defense.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 05, 2020 at 03:12 pm

If he continues to ascend, we not only have a replacement for Williams, we may also have long term DB when Kings contract comes up. I hope we can keep King but with all the big name players coming up for contracts next year, we may not have much choice.

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ricky's picture

June 05, 2020 at 03:22 pm

Yes, the Packers have several big name players up for contracts, but so do the other teams, and they only have so much money to spend and specific areas to address. Will the Packers lose one or two starters next off season? Probable. Will those players be replaced by someone better or just as good? To be determined. It's the nature of the league.

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TheVOR's picture

June 05, 2020 at 03:16 pm

I've enjoyed watching this player. Really caught my eye against the Raiders in preseason last year and has not disappointed.

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splitpea1's picture

June 05, 2020 at 03:25 pm

"...didn't give up a single touchdown or penalty and only missed one tackle all season...." Can't ask for anything more than that. I welcome any good-tackling CBs with open arms. Our secondary should be outstanding this season, and I'm very interested to see how our new coach does. I'll bet the Vikings' loss is our gain, as well.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 05, 2020 at 03:37 pm

You always need all the decent corners you can find because it’s a long season, these guys do get hurt, and you don’t want to have to cover Julio Jones in a playoff game with somebody like Ladarius Gunther. And Sullivan took quite a few snaps in one of the league’s better pass defenses and most likely will again. I’d say he’s the front runner for the nickel spot and we play that quite a bit.

Sullivan was active for all 16 games and played over 300 snaps on defense. If he’s our nickel, it’ll be closer to 700. If he plays well, it’d be a huge boost to our defense.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 06, 2020 at 01:44 pm

Gunther manned the boundary when there was nobody left. Did one heck of a job when he was supposed to have been playing SS. Packers got to NFL champ game because of his play during that run. (He took on their no.1 most of the time) Cutting him was a mistake the Packers paid for, when their secondary got wiped out the following season. (Dallas-Minnesota. Two games wiped out the secondary, and changed the course of the season. Yes yes Rodgers gone too, but no DB in a passing league, we all know what happens....)

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Leatherhead's picture

June 07, 2020 at 10:27 am

Nice to hear the positives about Gunter. He covered OBJ and Dez Bryant well enough for us to win. He’s been out of the league for two years now. Of his 54 career tackles, 52 of them were in 2016.

I would classify him as a guy who battled hard even when he was overmatched.

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fish's picture

June 05, 2020 at 06:45 pm

It would be nice to sign Williams for depth. He seemed to still play well last year. That would hopefully prevent a situation where King would feel he needs to play through an injury on his contract year (and since he's got the injury label).

Even if they re-sign Williams, Sullivan should get the majority of snaps this year.

I'm not sold on Hollman, Jackson, or Dequoy (sp?). The FA corner from Florida State, Stanford Samuels III will be interesting to watch in preseason.

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Gman1976's picture

June 05, 2020 at 08:59 pm

Wouldn’t it be cool if Dequoy was another special free agent find? We would have all kinds of speed in the secondary.

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Slim11's picture

June 06, 2020 at 09:37 am

I think Jackson is on the bubble...at best. Hollman will be interesting to watch because of a year on the roster. Dequoy is interesting, if for nothing else, his speed. Could be another Sam Shields in the making.

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dobber's picture

June 06, 2020 at 10:22 am

Core special teamer, high draft pick, flashed some cover skill as a rookie, hole on the depth chart (TWill), cheap--doesn't add up to a cut unless he's just atrocious or does something to become a PR nightmare.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 07, 2020 at 03:13 am

Sullivan's stats are outstanding. He did play just 356 snaps on defense, with 351 coming in the last 11 games (31.1 snaps per game during the last 11 games). To get the 40+ snaps in 7 games, ST snaps have to be added to his total. It is interesting that Sullivan took 145 snaps as the nickel CB. Sullivan played just 21 snaps in the playoffs against Seattle, and then just 8 against SF. It appears to me that Sullivan lost snaps to fortify the run defense, an interesting decision.

Fans should note that Tramon played 772 snaps with Sullivan playing 356 snaps. Sullivan can't play all of Tramon's snaps plus his own. Jaire played 1038 snaps and King played 812. I suppose GB can hope for 1000 snaps out of King, though they would still need a contribution from someone, be it Jackson, Hollman, or someone else.

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