Work Remains For Green Bay Packers Rookies to Land Starting Gigs

Javon Bullard, Packers
Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Green Bay Packers heading into the 2024 season. For the second year in a row, this could be the youngest roster in the NFL, meaning some unheralded players could play major roles.

On defense, there are several openings in the lineup. Two of the players that people are expecting to make an immediate impact on the team are linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and safety Javon Bullard.

Cooper, the No. 45 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, was the first player at his position off the board. Bullard, the No. 58 overall pick out of Georgia, joins former Bulldogs Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker in the lineup.

Both are expected to be major parts of Jeff Hafley’s new-look defense. After years of playing a 3-4 base under Joe Barry, the Packers are changing to a 4-3 base. But, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, there is still work to do for Cooper and Bullard to lock down starting spots.

“No starting jobs are going to be won or lost in June, but the Packers’ two highest-drafted defensive players this year could make a major impact in new coordinator Jeff Hafley’s scheme. Both showed flashes during OTAs, but neither one has quite locked up a starting job yet. Cooper has a good shot to start at one of the three inside linebacker positions in the 4-3 base defense, while Bullard is squarely in the mix at the safety spot next to free agent addition Xavier McKinney,” wrote Demovsky.

Walker is the only linebacker with a locked-in role currently. The same goes for McKinney at safety, as it is essentially an open competition for the starting spots alongside both players. Given their draft pedigree, they will be given every opportunity to earn prominent roles.

Some analysts believe that the combination of Walker and Cooper could become one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. Given the versatility that Bullard brings to the mix, the Packers should be able to mix and match their safety combinations alongside McKinney, who can fill several roles as well.

The Packers have no qualms about bringing draft picks along slowly, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But, based on their moves this offseason, smart money would be on Cooper and Bullard having big roles even if they aren’t starters right out of the gate.

Want the latest Packers news, rumors, and updates? Click here. If you want coverage on all other NFL teams, visit our sister site over at NFL Analysis Network. Should you want NBA coverage, you can visit our partner site NBA Analysis Network.