Sunday, June 16, 2013

Top Ten Packers Defensive Players Of The Modern Era

Packers top ten defenseive players
It’s June, and for us football writers, that means it’s time for some creativity in terms of story ideas. In other words, it’s time for lists. While some people may make lists of best of all time, I’m going to take a different approach. Since I’m only 27, I decided to make a list of the best Packers defensive players I’ve seen play with my own eyes.
10. Ryan Pickett- In his seven seasons in a Packers uniform, Ryan Pickett hasn’t been anything spectacular, but just good old reliable along a shaky Packers defensive front. Pickett has indeed been a stalwart, and even though he doesn’t come with the fanfare as the rest of the players on this list do, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong here, because he does.

9. Nick Barnett- When healthy, Barnett was a tackling machine in Green Bay, and one of former head coach/general manager Mike Sherman’s better decisions. Despite his lack of size, Barnett brought speed and athleticism to the middle linebacker position in Sherman’s defense.

8. Gilbert Brown- There is a fine line between being fat and being good. Brown walked that line every day of is NFL career. A castoff of the Minnesota Vikings, Brown blossomed as the cog in the middle of the Packers defense in the mid-90’s, and was one of the biggest reasons as to why the 1996 Packers defense gave up the fewest points in the NFL that season.

7. Nick Collins- If a player like Randall Cobb is fast, than Nick Collins is Flash Gordon fast. Collins could fly. Oh boy could he fly. Collins covered more ground than any other safety in recent memory. It’s a shame his NFL career ended the way it did. People don’t realize, that when Nick Collins suffered the Spinal Cord injury in week 2 of the 2011 season, Dom Capers entire defensive scheme blew up in his face, and the Packers have been scrambling to rebuild it ever since.

6. Darren Sharper- Darren Sharper had a very simple scouting report. He wasn’t a tackler, he wasn’t a range player, he was a centerfielder. Sharper was a ball hawk who played centerfield better than anyone league wide in recent memory, and he played a large portion of his career in Green Bay, which is why he is officially recognized on this list.

5. Al Harris- In 2002, Mike Sherman traded a 6th round draft choice to Philadelphia in exchange for a little known defensive back named Al Harris. Safe to say that was a 6th round draft choice well spent. Harris was the ace cover corner of the Packers for a number of years and will forever be remembered for his walk-off interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2004 Wildcard game.

4. Clay Matthews- Everyone scratched their heads as Ted Thompson traded back up into the back of the first round of the 2009 NFL draft to select USC’s third best linebacker. Ironically enough he used the third round draft choice he received from the Jets in the Brett Favre trade to do so. Four years later, nobody is scratching their heads anymore. Matthews is the only defensive player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. The Packers rewarded Matthews with a big old fat contract extension this offseason.

3. Charles Woodson- In eight seasons as the general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson has handed out one big name free agent contract. That was to Charles Woodson in 2006. Turns out that might be one of the most important free agent contracts handed out in league history, as Woodson went from draft bust to first ballot hall of famer in a Packers uniform.

2. Reggie White- Very few free agent signings work out. It’s even rarer that a free agent signing works out as well as this one did. White signed with the Packers, and led them on their glorious Super Bowl run in 1996. I could go on and on forever about White, but you all know the story. Before you cut my head off for not having him number one on this last, let me explain myself.

1. Leroy Butler- Charles Woodson may be headed for the Hall of Fame and Reggie White may already be there, but no Packers defensive player and I mean nobody, played in a Packers uniform for longer and played at such a high level for so long. Butler spent his entire 12-year career in a Packers uniform, and it is a crying shame he is not in the Hall Of Fame.

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