Ladarius Gunter getting "real shot" with 1st-team defense thanks to CB rating system

Green Bay — The cornerback hierarchy for the Green Bay Packers is designed by coach Joe Whitt Jr. to be something of a meritocracy: Those who perform the best against tougher competition will be rewarded with increased playing time.

The concept reveals itself in a grading scale created by Whitt, the cornerbacks coach, who allows his players to view the results and see a numerical explanation for their spot on the depth chart.

The star system, as he calls it, rates each one of the Packers' offensive players based on talent, with a 5-star player sitting atop the list. From there, Whitt takes into account the star rating of 1) the quarterback throwing a pass and 2) the receiver catching it. Those two numbers are added together to form a point total for one particular play.

"Aaron (Rodgers) is a 5-star; Jordy (Nelson) is a 5-star," Whitt said. "So if you make a play on that, that’s a 10-star play. That’s how it’s all evaluated. You’ve got to make some of those 10-star plays; don’t make a lot of those 4-star plays.

"It's an accurate picture of why certain people are getting reps ahead of you or why you’re getting more reps than this person. At the end of the day, I don’t want them to say, ‘I didn’t get a shot. I didn’t get a fair shot.’ Well, here it is. Look at it. You might have had five pass breakups but they were 4-star (quality). This guy had three 8-star (plays). There’s a huge difference in that."

On Thursday, undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter earned an opportunity to work with the first-team defense, which is a clear indication that his scores on the star system are trending up. Gunter, who has two interceptions of Rodgers in practice and the team's only interception against the Patriots, played alongside veteran Sam Shields for the majority of 11-on-11 reps.

Rookies Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall followed behind.

"If I’m going to truly give Gunter a chance, well he has to get out there with the 1s," Whitt said. "Earlier this week I think I had Quinten (Rollins) out there most of the time. And (Damarious Randall), he’s just coming back (from a groin injury). Last week it was Randall (with the first-team defense).

"I’m giving those three guys an opportunity to get a look, and the best guy will win it. If I’m going to give (Gunter) a real shot, he has to go with the 1s."

Though Whitt only uses his system to grade practice — "I don't put stars on those (other) guys,” he said — the weekly totals have a major influence on playing time during the exhibition season. On Friday, Whitt will calculate each cornerback's star totals from the entire week and the players with the best scores will receive more reps against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The players can see their scores and know exactly where they stand.

"The ones that practice the best this week will enter the game," Whitt said. "I told them whoever practices the best this week, that will be the entry into the game."

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus