1998 seems like an eternity ago. In fact, it is. 13 years ago, Woodson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. He was a young stud who resembled everything the Raiders wanted in a defensive prospect, and when he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in his first season, the Black Hole couldn't be more proud.
For anyone who has followed Woodson's rising career, you would have realized long ago that he is a step above the rest. Garden variety; Woodson is not. Top of the class? Definitely. Even though Darrelle Revis may oppose.
So when I hear talks of a possible position change for Woodson, I can't help but chuckle to myself. Would a move to safety really matter all that much for Woodson, let alone the Packers? And if this is a move Green Bay is considering, why do we pretend to be so concerned? Don't pretend you haven't lost sleep over it. I guess the thought of Woodson possibly placing his cornerback legacy in jeopardy is a worthwhile argument. After all, Green Bay only just lost Brett Favre to the Minnesota Vikings.
Perhaps the thought of Woodson harming his name at safety is a mild concern. But if we look past this irrational idea, moving Woodson to the safety position has both its pros and its cons. Touchwood, it may work out just fine.
Pros: Woodson has played safety before. It's kind of like saying "Ten years ago I used to have a great golf swing", but still, Woodson does have enough experience at the position. For Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers, not a whole lot of work is needed to make the transition a success. When it comes down to the nitty gritty, the similarities between the cornerback and safety position are present. At the end of the day, it's really about sticking with the receivers, nothing else.
But aside from the plain obvious, the opportunities this move offers are hard to overlook. Woodson recently eluded to the possibilities of signing Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason. It has been a dream for Titletown to gain a cornerback of Asomugha's prowess, and while it is hard to disregard the lockout, Packer fans still cling to the hope that it may someday happen. If this move were to wind up a reality, Woodson has said he would have no problem making the move to safety. It's nice to know he is willing to make way for fresh blood.
It is also humbling to know the Packers could sign a young gun, but still have one of the best defenders at the safety spot. Other than what could be, the final and simple fact remains the same: depth. Atari Bigby has gone the way of the gaming console itself, and even though Nick Collins often wears a Superman "S" under his jersey, Green Bay can't always rely upon him. Woodson injured his collarbone during the Super Bowl in February. The nature of any defensive position these days warrants an injury or two, but none like the cornerback spot. If injury is a concern for the Packers, moving him to safety may be in his best interests.
Woodson has had no trouble keeping up with the likes of Brandon Marshall or Sidney Rice in the past, but the safety spot would be slightly more relaxed for a veteran player like himself. Cons: With the good comes the bad, and there's plenty to talk about here. Woodson may be injured, yes. That doesn't discount how vital he is on the field, though. When injured in the Super Bowl, Woodson was the first to stand up in the locker room at half time, and despite choking up with tears, he delivered a stern message to his team. Half an hour later, the Packers were World Champs.
This is perhaps the most important thing for Green Bay to consider. Placing Woodson at the safety spot won't limit pep talks and on-field motivation, but it will take a toll on the young corners Woodson has been mentoring. As for rising star Tramon Williams, he isn't a bother. Williams is great, and he will only get better. In regards to the likes of Pat Lee and Sam Shields, however, they may be thrown into the deep end way too early in their young careers.
The next problem that arises is more direct: Woodson's blitzing. Seeing as though he is one of the many corners that loves to come from the edge and hit a quarterback hard, the Packers may miss that physical presence from the corner. Woodson may be able to rattle a quarterback from the safety spot, but the one-two punch of Clay Matthews up the middle and Woodson from the outside would limit the Packer defense if Woodson was to move.
There is nothing to say Williams or Shields aren't capable of knocking a few balls loose. Of course, no one rakes the ball away from a quarterback like Woodson. Dom Capers 3-4 defense would still remain strong if Woodson shifted to safety. Losing him at the corner spot in such a tough defensive division like the NFC North, though, is a huge gamble. Relax, Nothing Has Happened...yet.
With all of this talk, having somebody like Al Harris still on the roster would be nice for Mike McCarthy. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. If Green Bay wish to move Woodson to safety, they can rest assured that they will be making a positive move. Woodson played safety during his College days, so it's not like it is a totally unfamiliar position. It's really a case of age, depth and the future.
McCarthy will make the call one way or another -- Packer fans, don't worry, your defense isn't going anywhere.
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