While Atari Bigby has been absent from the Packers offseason workouts, rookie Morgan Burnett has been turning heads.
As a matter fact, the third-round draft pick from Georgia Tech has been so impressive with his playmaking ability during organized team activities that he could unseat Bigby as Green Bay’s starting strong safety this season.
Bigby has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender and that has opened the door for Burnett to get all the snaps with the first-team defense. Burnett was a big-time playmaker in college and he is showing off those same skills at Green Bay’s OTAs.
At 6?1, 209 pounds, Burnett has the ideal size to play strong safety in the NFL. He also has good speed (4.42 in the 40-yard dash) that will allow him to cover a lot of ground and match-up with receivers and tight ends.
The safety position has been a bit of a sore spot in Green Bay the last couple of years, as explosive passing teams have stayed away from the Packers corners and instead targeted the safeties and linebackers with a good deal of success. Bigby, in particular, has been exploited by some of the better offenses the Packers have faced.
Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay coaching staff are hoping Burnett can help upgrade play at the safety position. Burnett had 14 career interceptions at Georgia Tech and built a reputation for being a ballhawk. That is something the Packers sorely need in the middle of their defensive backfield, as Arizona showed when the Cardinals lit up Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs.
Bigby might want to get back on the field soon but even if he does, Burnett has a good shot to be the Packers starting strong safety when Green Bay opens the season against the Eagles in Philadelphia.