Green Bay Packers Would Be Wise to Keep Charles Woodson at Cornerback

Chris PetersonAnalyst IMay 1, 2012

Woodson already is a ballhawk at corner.
Woodson already is a ballhawk at corner.Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Ever since the Green Bay Packers' release of Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins last week, rumors of a possible a position change in the works for star cornerback Charles Woodson have ramped up. 

Many pundits believe the Packers would be better served by moving the talented and versatile Woodson to free safety, in order to fill the void left by Collins, whose career is being cut short by injury. 

After all, Woodson currently plays a role best described as a hybrid between cornerback, safety and linebacker in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense, thus a permanent shift to safety wouldn't be much of a stretch.

Additionally, the Packers have a need at safety due to the loss of Collins. Yet the position is not as barren as some seem to believe. If the season started today, the Packers could roll out experienced starters Morgan Burnett and Charlie Peprah, who combined to start 30 of 32 games in 2012.  

However, considering the Packers allowed more passing yards than any other team in NFL history last season, maintaining the status quo may not be the ideal solution.

Jerron McMillian of Maine, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by GM Ted Thompson, and promising second-year safety M.D. Jennings, an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas State, round out the depth chart and are expected to push Peprah for playing time this season.

The selection of McMillian surprised some, yet considering he is a 5'11", 208-pound safety who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds and specializes in tackling, it shouldn't. 

Peprah will likely begin the season as the starting safety.
Peprah will likely begin the season as the starting safety.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

As a senior at Maine, McMillian proved his affinity for making plays, registering 92 tackles, with 11.5 for loss to go along with 3.5 sacks. It's easy to see why Thompson and the Packers were high on him. 

McMillian and Jennings are far from proven, yet due to the Packers' philosophy of building through the draft, relying on young talent to produce is nothing out of the ordinary. 

Nevertheless, the two youngsters do have something Woodson doesn't: elite, top-end speed, which might make them better suited to help at safety than the aging veteran.   

Woodson's still a world-class athlete, but he's clearly lost a step. It doesn't mean he can't still be an impact player, but it raises concerns about his ability to succeed as a full-time safety.

Furthermore, a big reason for Woodson's success in Capers' system has been his flexibility. Currently, playing in his hybrid role, he gives opposing offenses fits, as they try to determine where he lines up, whom he will cover and when he will blitz. 

Moving Woodson to safety somewhat negates that advantage, potentially limiting his impact, while simultaneously creating a hole at corner, something Green Bay doesn't need to do.

Position changes are risky and come without guarantees; Woodson is a rare playmaker at his position, therefore, the Packers should keep him at corner, where he remains one of the top players in the NFL and can continue to wreak havoc from his hybrid role. 

Woodson was one of the few bright spots on the defense in an otherwise forgettable season, so as the old saying goes: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.