Special Teams will Play Big Role in Determining LB Depth Chart

Special teams play will likely play a major factor in determining what the Green Bay Packers linebacker depth chart looks like this season on the 53-man roster.

After years of the Green Bay Packers linebacker position being a weak point on this team, and if we are being honest, not putting a ton of draft or free agent capital into it, in one offseason, this position group has been reshaped. 

Following an All-Pro season, the Packers re-signed De’Vondre Campbell to a five-year $50 million deal. Then with the 22nd overall pick, Green Bay selected Quay Walker. 

Both bring an ability to play the run and the pass effectively, which will allow Green Bay to stay in their base nickel defense more frequently — which includes two linebackers — and will also make them less predictable. Last season with Krys Barnes on the field, it was somewhat obvious that the Packers were more so playing the run. With Henry Black, they were playing the pass. 

However, as far as what the rest of the depth chart looks like, both in the number of linebackers kept on the 53-man and who those linebackers are, is very likely going to be determined by special teams play more than anything else. With Campbell and Walker, it’s not as if anyone else is going to really see much defensive playing time anyways. 

Barnes is likely a roster lock because of the defensive experience he brings and he's also playing on an inexpensive contract. But he could very well be someone who could become a core special teams player under Rich Bisaccia as well. He was on the field for only 125 special teams snaps in 2021 but could possibly assume a larger role this year after making two tackles while not missing any last season. While there have been ups and downs, for the most part defensively, he has been a strong tackler, and there are certainly several positive aspects of his game for Bisaccia to work with.

Ty Summers and Isaiah McDuffie both have special teams experience, with Summers finishing top four in special teams snaps in each of his three NFL seasons while McDuffie finished seventh in snaps as a rookie. For what it’s worth, by PFF’s grading system, Summer graded out much better in 2021 than McDuffie. 

Ray Wilborn has been in the league for a few seasons but doesn’t have any career NFL snaps, and neither do undrafted rookies Ellis Brooks and Caliph Brice. Brooks was on the field for 270 special teams snaps at Penn State and Brice 189 at FAU. Both also posted decent 40-times, and that straight line speed will certainly come in handy on special teams—not to mention that each are sound tacklers as well. 

Given how bad the special teams unit was last season and that this phase of the game is under new leadership in Bisaccia, playing time is going to have to be earned all over again. Perhaps more so than in years past, experience may not be as valued as everyone is learning a new system. 

With that said, how each of these players not named Campbell and Walker performs on defense is, of course, going to matter. But with Campbell and Walker dominating the snaps, these final roster spots and how many roster spots are devoted to the position -- four or five -- will very much be determined by special teams performances in training camp and the preseason. 

For some added context, in 2019 and 2020, the Packers kept four inside linebackers on the initial 53-man roster and they then kept five in 2021. Whether it be at linebacker or another position, whichever back-end of the roster player can emerge as a special teams contributor for Bisaccia will have the inside track to a roster spot.

---------------------

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. 
 

NFL Categories: 
4 points

Comments (20)

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

June 03, 2022 at 11:19 am

Athletes first, experience second. Normally I wouldn't say that but the Packers special teams seemed to lack playmakers, one person who would nail the returner and that was that.

Summers and McDuffie are not starters and at some point you must upgrade the athleticism from those two spots on special teams.

2 points
3
1
jannes bjornson's picture

June 03, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Clean Haus, McDuffie may have a chance to stick....

-2 points
0
2
PatrickGB's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:05 pm

Harry. I would also emphasize attitude and training/coaching to that. You gotta want to and know how to. That’s why we have fired coaches. It must be instilled.

1 points
1
0
mnbadger's picture

June 03, 2022 at 07:22 pm

Summers has to go. 4th most ST snaps as a LB but never made a play?

1 points
3
2
splitpea1's picture

June 03, 2022 at 11:39 am

I agree. As bad as this unit has been lately, experience doesn't mean squat. Whoever impresses right here and right now with assignment responsibility, tackling, and hustle will win the jobs. I would almost look at this unit as a mini-expansion team (with the exception of the gray-haired Crosby) building from the ground up, and a couple of surprises will probably emerge in rounding out the final roster.

4 points
4
0
lou's picture

June 03, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Summers not contributing from scrimmage based on his athletic ability has been a real surprise. His RAS score of 9.71 was close to Gary's, he ran a 4.51 forty at 240 pounds as part of the calculation. Based on the number of seasons we watched Burks because of being a higher pick get snaps from scrimmage and contributing virtual nothing I can't believe they didn't give Summers a long look but it must have been a political move just like running Jackson out at CB because of being a 2nd round pick when everyone realized he couldn't play.

1 points
2
1
dobber's picture

June 03, 2022 at 01:48 pm

Summers always seemed to profile more as a downhill ILB who could run. He lasted to the 7th round for a reason, and that's that he lacked instincts. Several scouts wrote reports to that effect, and that he projected as a bottom of the roster LB and ST player. The fact that he's been a core special teamer--regardless of what we think of Packer STs--means those scouts got it about right for Summers in GB...which, all told, isn't bad for a 7th round pick.

We can talk about "political" and pick status, but the fact that Krys Barnes leapfrogged over Burks kinda shoots that in the foot.

8 points
8
0
Lphill's picture

June 03, 2022 at 02:29 pm

In the Bucs playoff game loss Summers came in the second half and took away the middle of the field from Brady he rated out very high in that game I think he has the potential but not the opportunity.

-1 points
4
5
mnbadger's picture

June 03, 2022 at 07:26 pm

Wait, Summers took away the middle of the field from the goat? Not sure what you're smoking on that hill but I can smell it from here! GPG

2 points
3
1
MITM's picture

June 04, 2022 at 09:20 am

Actually there is some truth to that. Go watch the 2nd half of that game when he took over for Barnes. IMO it was that game and when he started against the Saints and Brees on SNF were the only times he has really showed anything. I agree with the original poster that Summers is at least a curious case of what went wrong where.

1 points
1
0
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:42 pm

I think they stopped playing Jackson when they realized he couldn't play. He was decent for a rookie; nowhere near his draft class pick Jaire, but he wasn't awful. Then he kept falling down the depth chart and had fewer and fewer snaps. We don't know what happened and why his apparent talent (he was slated to be a first rounder in many mocks) didn't translate to the NFL. Maybe he didn't have the emotional make up to forget mistakes and move on, maybe he didn't have the work ethic. Maybe he had all that and he was just a one-year wonder in college. But I don't see anything political about it. They gave a second round pick plenty of chances to make an impact and he didn't and his chances went away. He's not even in the league now.

5 points
5
0
wildbill's picture

June 03, 2022 at 04:08 pm

I think he has trouble tackling due to shorter arms, not sure where I read that but watching him he does seem to lunge instead of drive through the tackle

1 points
1
0
PatrickGB's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:00 pm

When talking about special Teams most people think of kickers, returners and sometimes gunners. Yet it was often the errors from the other players that screwed up a play. Getting blocked at a key point or not holding a block are many of the culprits for poor play by teams. Starters are often better at that IF they get reps in teams practice. However, if we stick to players down the depth chart then I expect them to excel at their only job. It’s an attitude thing. as much as an athletic one. WWJ excelled at being a gunner yet sucked at WR. I like that Rich is working the whole team and holding the whole team to a standard. Even to how they break a huddle.

5 points
5
0
Leatherhead's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:24 pm

5 DL
5CB
4 safeties
4 Edge
3 ILB

That’s what we have active on game day. We could go with one less DL and that would give us one more ILB spot. It’s gonna be Campbell, Walker, and Barnes, so whoever that 4th guy is, he’s not going to get very many snaps from scrimmage.

1 points
2
1
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:31 pm

Which 4 safeties and 5 CBs though? I can see going with one less safety and having a hybrid LB in there.

2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

June 03, 2022 at 03:56 pm

Amos, Savage, and Nixon are 3 of our safeties.

Alexander, Stokes, Douglas at CB for sure. Unless we’re going to cut guys we drafted last year you’re probably looking at guys like Ento and Shemar. Maybe Scott. And we drafted a safety hybrid who might see the field when people get injured.

0 points
1
1
mrtundra's picture

June 03, 2022 at 05:46 pm

That hybrid Safety would be Tariq Carpenter. He may be on the field sooner than later, on Bissaccia's STs. Would they play Samari Toure, as a gunner, on STs? How about Doubs? I see Doubs and Watson as our returners, this season.

5 points
5
0
Leatherhead's picture

June 03, 2022 at 06:21 pm

He’s got to be on the Gameday 21 before he does anything on special teams. Same with Toure.

1 points
1
0
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

June 03, 2022 at 06:20 pm

The articles I've seen indicate Nixon is a CB, not a safety. I would think our CBs would be Alexander, Stokes, Douglas, Nixon and Jean-Charles. Maybe another one, too. I

2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

June 03, 2022 at 06:25 pm

Yes, he’s listed as a corner. I believe if he plays defensively for us, it’ll be as a safety.

0 points
1
1