In my opinion, our new starting safety was selected in the third round of this year's draft. Safety Morgan Burnett was drafted with the 71st pick out of Georgia Tech University. He could unseat incumbent Atari Bigby.
1. Atari Bigby Cannot Stay Healthy
Bigby got hurt at the beginning of the season last year and our lack of depth was really exposed. The Packers shipped out Aaron Rouse and that proved to be a bad idea. The team then signed Matt Giordano and that experiment didn't work. If Burnett started from day one, this won't be an issue.
2. Morgan Burnett Has Tremendous Skills
Burnett started 28 of 40 games at Georgia Tech, recording 235 tackles (147 solos) with an eight-yard sack and 13.5 stops for losses of 40 yards. He deflected 19 passes and intercepted 14 others for 135 yards in returns (9.64 avg). He returned one of his fumble recoveries 26 yards. His 14 pass thefts are topped by only Willie Clay's 16 (1988-91) on the school career-record list. Bigby put up decent numbers, but not like this.
Burnett's all-around game is what attracted the Packers to him. He's not a one-trick pony as a safety, like some who can lay the big hit but can't catch the ball, or can make the interception but get bowled over in run support.
At 6'1" and 209 pounds, Burnett can play like an extra linebacker in the box as well as roam the deep middle in coverage; dual skills that defensive backs coach Darren Perry emphasized are necessary for safeties in the Packers' 3-4 scheme.
3. Burnett Has Skills That Don't Need To Be Taught
He has good anticipation and a good feel for space. He is a little bit like a center fielder. He understands angles and he knows how to get in front of the ball, and the opportunities that he had, he made the catch, and he made the interceptions. With Bigby, he is either going to get a lights out hit, or he is going to miss and give up a big play. Not to mention a Collins/Burnett tandem could be devastating.
Whether or not Burnett has a chance to be an immediate starter, Atari Bigby will have something to say about it. I think the Packers secondary would be better off with Burnett then the swing and miss Bigby. Yes, Burnett will be in his first season, but Ted wouldn't have traded up for him if he didn't think there was a legitimate chance Burnett could start.
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