GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 53: S Vernon Scott (6-2, 202, rookie, TCU)
The NFL Draft Media Conglomerate didn’t think much of Scott. Actually, it didn’t think of Scott at all. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler was an exception. In his massive draft preview, Brugler ranked Scott as the No. 61 safety in the class.
The Packers, however, used a seventh-round draft choice on Scott, making him the 22nd of 24 safeties off the board. What did general manager Brian Gutekunst and his scouts see in Scott that everyone else missed?
The final three games.
When Scott returned from a midseason ankle injury, there was another injury in TCU’s three-safety alignment. Scott moved to fill the hole as a safety/slot hybrid.
“That other spot is like a nickel corner at the NFL level,” Horned Frogs safeties coach Paul Gonzales told Packer Central after the draft. “We moved him there and got him ready in the span of a week to play against Texas Tech. He had never taken any reps there before that week and he really thrived. When you look at his body of work as far as the season goes, most of his production and big plays came in the tail-end of the year when he made that move. That was a big deal for him to, ‘Hey, we’ve got to plug you in at a spot’ and he did it and he played at a high level. That was a pretty good culmination for him to the four years of work that he put in. I think that’s what a lot of people saw as they went through the tape of him. Early on, he was solid. As he moved to that spot the last three games, all of a sudden it was like, ‘Whoa, who’s this guy making all these plays?’”
In those three games, Scott made a lot of plays. In fact, he produced four of his six career turnovers. Against Texas Tech, he forced a fumble to preserve the victory. Against Oklahoma, he had a season-high seven tackles, a 98-yard pick-six and a fumble recovery. In the finale against West Virginia, he had one sack and one forced fumble.
That safety/slot versatility is what drew Gutekunst to Scott, who started only two games in his first three seasons. He contemplated leaving the sport after the death of his stepfather during the spring of his sophomore year.
“He’s a mid-4.4 guy. He’s got the size; he’s about 6-1, 200 pounds,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said after the draft. “We really like his versatility. He’s got a little bit of that ability to play safety but he can cover in the slot a little bit. He’s a little of a late bloomer, some struggles to get through the early part of his college career but once he took off this year, we just really liked his upside. I thought his best football (is ahead of him).”
Why he’s got a chance: The more you can do, the better. Scott has the potential to play the nickel and safety positions, and has the size and speed to be a weapon on special teams. “I’m a very rangy guy. I’m a very versatile guy,” he said. “I think being able to show my athleticism on the defense in many ways throughout the Packers defense. I’m a versatile guy. I can play deep, I can come down and guard tight ends, running backs, come off the edge. I did all of that at TCU, so I feel like I’m a very versatile player. I can be used many ways in the Packers defense.”