Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy on Packers’ Second-Round Pick Javon Bullard

The Green Bay Packers drafted nine players who were selected for the Senior Bowl. Jim Nagy had a rave review of Georgia safety Javon Bullard.
Javon Bullard sacks C.J. Stroud
Javon Bullard sacks C.J. Stroud / Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – In need of a safety to line up next to Xavier McKinney, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst had almost the entire draft class available with the 58th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.

With McKinney at his best in a playmaking role, Gutekunst could have gone with one of the bigger prospects, such as Utah’s Cole Bishop or Washington State’s Jaden Hicks. Instead, he selected one of the most versatile prospects in Georgia’s Javon Bullard.

“He’s a good football player. I mean, just a good football player,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told Packer Central in a conversation about the team’s NFL-high nine prospects taken from the premier all-star game. “That’s the highest compliment I can give a guy.”

Bullard was a two-year starter for the powerhouse Bulldogs. He had two interceptions, five passes defensed, 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for losses in 2022 and two interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2023.

In 2022, most of his action came in the slot. He was Defensive MVP of the College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Ohio State, when he had one sack and one pass breakup on a crunching hit of Marvin Harrison in the end zone, and the national championship victory over TCU, when he had two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

In 2023, most of his action came at free safety. Among Power-5 conference safeties with at least 200 coverage snaps, he was No. 1 in forced-incompletion percentage (26.9 percent) and No. 2 in passer rating (34.0) according to Pro Football Focus. He was charged with 14 completions in 26 targets, with only one reception of 15-plus yards.

Run defense wasn’t his role last season – of his 596 defensive snaps in 2023, he played 362 at free safety, 144 in the slot and 80 in the box – but he is a physical player.

“He’s like a little stick of dynamite,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said after Bullard had two sacks against Tennessee in 2022. “He’s physical and he’s passionate about playing the game.”

That’s what the Packers are counting on, with Gutekunst hoping new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley can use McKinney as the post safety – aka free safety – on one play and Bullard in that role on the next to keep offensive coordinators and quarterbacks off-balance.

“He can play the post, he can come down in the box, he can jump in the nickel,” Gutekunst said after drafting Bullard on Friday. “He can do a lot of things and he has done a lot of things in probably as close to a pro-style defense as there is.”

That skill-set was evident at the Senior Bowl. At the end of the week, the American team’s players vote for the best players on the National team, and vice-versa. The National team’s receivers and running backs voted Bullard the American team’s best safety.

“He makes plays in both phases,” Nagy said. “He’s very instinctive, aggressive, he’ll trigger downhill, he can make plays in coverage. I think the thing that showed up in Senior Bowl was some of the stuff he did in man coverage. I think he can play nickel, so there’s some nickel-safety versatility there. Yeah, guy’s just a really good football player.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.