As good as the trio of Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, and Eric Stokes can be, the depth at the cornerback position for the Green Bay Packers was in question entering the summer.
Overall, there is just a lot of inexperience behind the Packers’ Big 3.
Keisean Nixon has been in the NFL for a few seasons and has under 300 defensive snaps. Shemar Jean-Charles was on the field for only 38 as a rookie, while Rico Gafford just made the switch to cornerback from receiver. Kiondre Thomas, Kabion Ento, and Donte Vaughn have no regular season snaps.
Throughout most of training camp up to this point, Jean-Charles has been the fourth cornerback, with Nixon sidelined until recently. Jean-Charles has even had some opportunities with the ones as well.
During his college career at Appalachian State, Jean-Charles primarily lined up on the boundary. In his final season, he would lead college football in pass breakups with 16 and finish seventh among 79 eligible cornerbacks in PFF’s run defense grade.
With the Packers, however, Jean-Charles is expected to be a slot cornerback – although he played on the boundary as well against San Francisco – where in addition to coverage ability, there is a premium on tackling and holding up against the run-two areas Jean-Charles had success in at the collegiate level.
With Alexander, Douglas, and Stokes not suiting up in the first preseason game, Jean-Charles was on the “starting” defensive unit, and his 23 coverage snaps were the most on the team, according to PFF.
Yet despite being on the field often, the San Francisco quarterbacks only threw Jean-Charles’ direction one time, and it was an incomplete pass.
Jean-Charles also logged a tackle, a stop, and finished tied for second on the team in special teams snaps, playing a variety of roles while logging one tackle.
Of course, Alexander, Douglas, and Stokes will take the bulk of the cornerback snaps this season, but for a team lacking experience, specifically in the slot, having a fourth cornerback that Joe Barry can lean on occasionally, whether that be Jean-Charles or Nixon, will provide added flexibility when it comes to game planning from week to week.
Oftentimes we see a player in their second season take a big step forward as things begin to slow down and their comfortability within the offensive or defensive system grows. Early impressions indicate that Jean-Charles is making that leap.
There are still several practices left along with two preseason games and a lot to be determined, but with the fourth cornerback role and special teams snaps available, Jean-Charles has taken advantage of his opportunities and positioned himself well.
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