The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects the Green Bay Packers could select in the 2023 NFL Draft.
As it stands, it is surrounded by a lot of moving parts and question marks Green Bay’s secondary. Adrian Amos is set to be a free agent, leaving Darnell Savage Jr as the only safety under contract with any significant moves under his belt.
At cornerback, Jaire Alexander is fresh off an All-Pro season. Right now, he’s the only sure thing at Joe Barry High School.
Rasul Douglas, like the rest of the defense, struggled with consistency. Douglas struggled playing the slot, but even after returning to the border he was unable to repeat the success he achieved the year before. There has been talk of Green Bay potentially moving Douglas to safety. That’s one moving part.
Before suffering a season-ending injury, Eric Stokes was going through a sophomore slump. How will he look after that injury in training camp? During his rookie season, Stokes looked like a lockdown cornerback. Will he be able to return to that level of play in year three?
Where will the Packers play Savage? Will they have him in the slot? If the Packers can get anything for him, would they be open to trading the former No. 1 pick after he was benched last season?
The pieces are there, the only question is where they will fit. With how talented the cornerback class is in the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s a safe bet that Brian Gutekunst will add at least one, maybe even two, cornerbacks in the upcoming draft.
A player Green Bay’s general manager could target in April is Julius Brents. The Kansas State cornerback checks in at No. 52 on the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
An Indiana recruit, Brents began his college career at Iowa before transferring to Kansas State. During his first season as a Wildcat, he recorded 49 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interception.
Last season, Brents recorded 45 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and four pass deflections.
“Julius had a really good season for Kansas State,” Kansas State reporter Drew Galloway told On3Sports. “He basically took away one side of the field every game. K-State never runs tackles so he’s just been on one side of the field all season and he’s done a really good job. He was good in his first season as well, but he was much better when the ball was in the air. A year ago he was the victim of a lot of really good catches because he couldn’t finish the play, but this season he finished the play well and did a good job. His progress is one of the reasons K-State won the Big 12.”
Standing at 6-3, with 34-inch arms, his length goes on for days. He stifles passing windows with his length and gives the defender a small window to throw into. He is disruptive at the time of the catch and does a good job playing through the wide receiver’s hands. In addition, Brents can jump out of the stadium. A former track and field athlete, Brents showed off his leaping ability at the scouting combine with a 41.5-inch vertical and a mark of 11-06 in the broad jump.
“What makes him so effective in coverage is his length,” Galloway said. “If he gets beaten deep, he can always make up for it with his length. He had a tailback in a one-on-one at the senior bowl where the running back didn’t even throw the ball because Brents length was bothering the receiver in coverage.”
Brents has a jerky bottom half and agile hips. In zone coverage, Brents has disciplined eyes and shows good route recognition. Brents uses his length and physicality to route wide receivers.
“His biggest strength is he’s sticky in coverage,” Galloway said. “He rarely gets beaten deep and is always super sticky. He uses his size very well and is always in the right spot when it comes to coverage.”
Brents is a physical up-and-comer in run support. He looks like a safety with the way he throws his body. With its length, it has a large combat radius. He has a high batting average as a hitter. According to Professional football focus, Brents had just four missed tackles this past season with three coming against Kansas State against Oklahoma. Brents hasn’t missed a game all season after that week four game against the Sooners.
“Brents is really, really good in support of the run,” Galloway said. “He played a lot in run support this season. In the Oklahoma game, he made some big plays in run support. It’s kind of interesting when we talk about the corner, but one place where K-State missed him in the Texas game where he was sacked for targeting on the second play of the game was in run support.”
Brents played mostly on the border when he was a Wildcat. He has the short-area speed and agility to line up and has the size, length and physicality to handle tight ends. Some teams may even see him as a safety. Galloway said he fits best on the edge where he has the ability to take away half the court.
“I think he’s best suited to be a boundary corner at the next level,” Galloway said. “He doesn’t blow you away with speed, but he’s so reliable and can take away the whole side of the field.”
Fits with the Packers
When the Packers take the field to open the season, what will their secondary look like? Who will play the slot machine? Who will be the two starting safeties? Who will start opposite Alexander on the border? There are many balls in the air.
With so many moving parts, the only thing that is certain is that Gutekunst will add a player to the mix.
Brents has rare length for the position and has the ability to play anywhere in the secondary. With his athleticism, size and physicality, Brents could be a day or two target for the Packers as they look to add more talent to the secondary.
Where Brents would fit into that puzzle would be a question mark. What isn’t in question are the rare traits the Kansas State defensive back would bring to Green Bay’s secondary.
“Brents has so many things that can’t be taught,” Galloway said. “He has crazy size, length and athleticism for a corner. He is extremely reliable in coverage and Quenten Johnston called him the best corner he went against in both seasons. His biggest weakness is probably his ball skills, which is something that can be learned instead of his other attributes. He has everything you could want from a corner. He is also a great leader.”