Packers rookie review: S Tariq Carpenter
The Green Bay Packers made 11 picks during the 2022 NFL draft: six offensive players and five defensive players.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be going through and reviewing the 2022 season for all of the Packers’ rookies. Next up: the first of four seventh-round picks made by the Packers, safety Tariq Carpenter.
Tariq Carpenter came into the NFL out of Georgia Tech as an experienced special teams player with over 400 career collegiate snaps. His role with the Packers started out as non-existent, as he didn’t take his first special teams snaps until Week 4, but he became a core member of this unit by season’s end. In total, Carpenter played 120 special teams snaps, most of which came on the kick coverage and punt return units. He also played 17 defensive snaps, most of which came at free safety and in Week 17, during the Packers’ blow-out win over Minnesota.
Over his 17 defensive snaps, Carpenter didn’t log any stats. On special teams, however, despite ranking 14th on the team in total snaps, Carpenter had the third most tackles with seven. He was also credited with only one missed tackle as well, but called for a penalty.
It’s a very small sample size, but Carpenter’s defensive grade of 63.4 is considered “average” by PFF and ranked 91st out of all safeties in 2022. For what it’s worth, he ranked 11th in grade out of 28 safeties from the 2022 draft class. His special teams grade of 54.7 was below average.
Over the second half of the season, Carpenter became a key member of the Packers’ kick coverage unit and recorded a tackle in six of Green Bay’s last eight games. He was also a capable blocker on the punt return unit as well. His best game came in Week 17 against the Vikings, where Carpenter played a career-high 16 special teams snaps and ranked 27th out of 200 eligible players by PFF’s grading system that week. As already mentioned, this was also the game where Carpenter saw his most defensive snaps, with 13 coming in this game alone.
Season recap, future outlook
Seventh-round picks are far from guaranteed a roster spot, so the fact that Carpenter was not only able to make the team but also make an impact is a win for both him and the Packers. Rich Bisaccia’s impact as the special teams coordinator was perhaps most notable with young players like Carpenter and Isaiah McDuffie, who continued to improve each week and ended up as key contributors to the special teams unit.
Looking ahead, Carpenter will continue to be a key member of the Packers special teams unit. Defensively, the safety position is very much in flux right now, with only him, Darnell Savage, and James Wiggins under contract in 2023. In his limited playing time, Carpenter was used mostly as a free safety, but given his unique combination of size and speed, he may be best utilized as a box defender when the Packers are in dime. Not to say that this is the plan, but going into the upcoming season and expecting Carpenter to play a much larger role on defense is likely a risky move by the Packers. Adding to the safety position this offseason should be a top priority for Brian Gutekunst.
The Green Bay Packers went from ranking dead last in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings to 22nd, and as a rookie, Carpenter did play a role in that turnaround. Seventh-round draft picks are very much wildcards, with most being non-factors in that first season, but Carpenter was able to be one of Green Bay’s top tacklers on special teams, despite not seeing steady playing time until over halfway through the season.