The Green Bay Packers linebacker training camp battle is going to be one of the more intriguing ones to watch for IDP managers. Where do these players stack up before camp takes off? Let’s take a look and break them down as assets.
One of the biggest linebacker camp battles to watch in the IDP game happens to be with my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. The top Packers linebacker spot in Green Bay has been a productive role for IDP and is one to monitor. The Packers defense has featured a good amount of single linebacker sets, making it important to know who their every-down linebacker is for fellow IDP managers.
In the past, we saw Blake Martinez put up some big-time tackle numbers as the man in the middle for Green Bay. Martinez was a durable tackle machine, making him a set-and-forget weekly start. In 2020, with Martinez out of town, that role was supposed to be Christian Kirksey’s. Well, that didn’t exactly work out, to say the least.
Kirksey failed to stay healthy and Green Bay had to look elsewhere at linebacker. We saw the likes of Krys Barnes, Kamal Martin, and Ty Summers all make starts at linebacker for Green Bay in 2020. Krys Barnes being the most notable of that group as he made the biggest impact IDP-wise in 2020.
With all those players returning (minus Kirksey), along with a few newcomers, the question is– what do we do with this group? In this article, I’ll talk briefly about Green Bay’s new defensive coordinator and put the notable players into actionable categories as we enter training camp. Hopefully, this gives IDP managers an idea of how to handle the situation as we await Green Bay’s crucial training camp.
2021 Defensive Outlook/New Scheme
After three years of Mike Pettine as the defensive coordinator, Green Bay felt it was time for a change. The front office decided to hire Joe Barry as its new DC. Barry spent last season as the linebackers coach for the Rams under defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
Right now, we don’t know a ton about what exactly Barry’s scheme is going to look like. Some of what is being said are that it won’t look a whole lot different, but will certainly have changes in the calls and concepts. The biggest thing we want to know is if Green Bay will continue to run so many dime package looks and only produce one full-time linebacker.
My guess right now is we won’t have two weekly options at linebacker out of this group. This is just a guess, but I think it’s important we find out who’s going to wear the coveted green dot and run the show. Training camp will shine more light on this situation in a few weeks. Listed below is where I would value the current players in the mix.
These are the two linebackers I’m projecting as starters with the best chance to win that every-down linebacker role and run the show.
2020 stats w/ Arizona: 99 tackles (69 solos), 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble
The Packers made a late offseason splash by bringing in veteran De’Vondre Campbell. The signing makes sense as they could use a veteran presence and some depth at the position. Campbell is coming off a year where he graded out solidly as a tackler (76.4 per PFF) but had some struggles in coverage (51.5 grade per PFF). All that being said, Campbell did produce admirably, falling just one tackle shy of triple digits last season.
If I had to pick the odds-on favorite to wear the dot and be the man in the middle, I’d probably bet on Campbell. He brings experience to the position and still has enough talent to get it done. Campbell is currently coming off the board as LB45 according to IDPGuys ADP, which I think is a nice value. Getting him as an LB4 in drafts with his chance to lock down a productive role makes me a buyer all day.
2020 stats: 80 tackles (49 solos), 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Defensive Snaps: 421 (41%)
An undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2020, Krys Barnes was a pleasant surprise for Packer nation. When Christian Kirksey failed to stay healthy, it was Barnes who stepped up. In fact, even when Kirksey was available later in the year, Barnes was the preferred choice by the staff down the stretch. Barnes had a real solid stretch from Weeks 13-15 as he produced 27 tackles (19 solos), two tackles for loss, and a sack during that span.
While Barnes may not have graded out all that well overall, he did show he can hang in the league. I also liked his toughness to come up and push the line. While I think Campbell is the favorite to wear the dot, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it ended up being Barnes instead.
If managers are down on Barnes due to uncertainty, it’s a good time to swoop in and try to acquire him cheaply. In drafts, he’s a better value than Campbell as he’s basically going undrafted according to our IDPGuys ADP. Buying or drafting Barnes now could pay off big time if he wins the full-time linebacker role. He stepped up in 2020 and has a chance to step up even more in 2021.
These are the two linebackers worth taking a shot on as they have some potential to develop, especially Kamal Martin.
2020 stats: 24 tackles (17 solos), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Defensive Snaps: 190 (19%)
Kamal Martin was one of the talks of training camp before the 2020 season. The coaching staff loved his athleticism and range. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury that hampered him during the season. While it was a small sample size, Martin flashed his ability both as a tackler and in coverage when on the field.
To pair with his athleticism, Martin also has good size for the position at 6’3’’ and 235 pounds. I think Martin is a very intriguing player as Green Bay enters training camp. If he can generate the same amount of buzz he did last year, he could enter the mix for a starting job. If Martin is on your waiver wire or an afterthought by a manager, he’s a player worth grabbing as an upside stash.
2020 stats w/ Boston College: 107 tackles (54 solos), 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception
Green Bay selected McDuffie in the sixth round of this year’s draft. While he’s a smaller linebacker, I absolutely love the toughness and relentlessness McDuffie plays with. He was very productive in his final year at Boston College as a tackler, while also showing ability both in coverage and as a blitzer.
I think McDuffie has a solid chance to make the team as he can contribute right away on special teams. He’s a bit of a long shot to contribute this year, but if injuries pop up he could possibly get some run in sub packages. In deeper roster leagues, McDuffie is worth a taxi squad stash in case he makes a splash down the road.
Leave Em’ on the Wire
Just as the heading reads, these guys can stay on your wavier wire and aren’t worth taking up a roster spot.
2020 stats: 39 tackles (27 solos)
Defensive Snaps: 176 (17%)
Ty Summers has stepped in when Green Bay has needed him and done a fine job as a fill-in. The problem is, he’s a liability in coverage and teams know it. Summers is a good depth player from an NFL standpoint as he’s smart, reliable, and plays special teams. That being said, he’s not someone worth rostering for IDP due to his lack of a three-down skill set.
2020 stats: 21 tackles (14 solos), 1 tackle for loss, 2 forced fumbles
Defensive Snaps: 96 (9%)
I was a fan of Oren Burks when Green Bay drafted him out of Vanderbilt. He has a versatile skill set and plenty of athleticism. Burks has failed to live up to what fans hoped and I don’t see that changing. He just hasn’t put it all together and has been passed up by others on the roster. As disappointing as it is, Burks isn’t worth a roster spot and can be left on the wire.
The Green Bay Packers linebacker battle will be one we IDP managers should be keeping tabs on when camp starts up. While it’s only a projection, I’m currently giving the nod to Campbell and Barnes to open the season as the two starters. This is why I’m buying both where I can as throwing darts at one or both could pay off nicely in season. Also, don’t sleep on Martin, the staff likes him and he could surprise.
We are just a few weeks away from training camps kicking off and tons of news filling our Twitter feeds. I know there’s this other kind of big story surrounding the quarterback in Green Bay, I’m sure you have heard, ugh. I think for us IDP managers this linebacker battle could be quite exciting in itself. Make sure you keep tabs on the news coming out and I’m sure I’ll be tweeting some stuff about it along the way. Bring on training camp and GO PACK GO! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself……