Packers’ Derrick Ansley Recruited Everybody

New Green Bay Packers defensive passing game coordinator Derrick Ansley knows just about everybody in the secondary.
Packers assistant coach Derrick Ansley while at Tennessee.
Packers assistant coach Derrick Ansley while at Tennessee. / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel, Knoxville
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Derrick Ansley is the Green Bay Packers’ new defensive passing game coordinator. From a positional perspective, he will focus on the team’s cornerbacks.

The cornerback crew is led by two-time All-Pro Jaire Alexander, who is coming off a down season. Beyond Alexander and nickel Keisean Nixon, the rest of the group is shrouded in mystery.

Fortunately, as the build to the 2024 season has begun with the start of offseason workouts, Ansley has some history with just about everybody in the defensive backs room.

“These guys coming in here, I knew a lot of them,” Ansley said on Thursday, his first interview session with reporters since joining defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley’s staff in March.

“I knew Jaire, recruited him in high school when I was at Kentucky. Obviously, I didn’t sign him; he went to Louisville, and I competed against him at Louisville. And then when he got to the Combine, it was my first year in the league with the Raiders, so I was with him at the Combine, knew him then. He’s a phenomenal talent. Eric Stokes, I recruited him, had Corey Ballentine at the Senior Bowl, so I knew him.”

With injuries and a suspension limiting Alexander to 40.1 percent playing time and chronic hamstring issues limiting Stokes to just 9.9 percent playing time, the Packers were forced to give seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine an outsized role. Of the perimeter corners, Valentine was the only one to play more than 50 percent of the snaps last year (62.6 percent).

“He’s from Cincinnati originally,” Ansley said. “When he’s in the offseason and even high school, he would drive from Cincinnati to Louisville every day to work out with his trainer. That’s about an hour, 1:15 one way. So, that tells you what kind of competitive spirit, what kind of details he has in his game.”

Ansley spent the previous three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers as secondary coach. When they fired coach Brandon Staley in mid-December, Ansley was elevated to defensive coordinator for the final few games.

Before joining the Chargers, he got to know the Packers’ projected starting safeties – key free-agent acquisition Xavier McKinney and rookie Javon Bullard.

Ansley was the defensive backs coach at the University of Alabama in 2016 and 2017. While there, he helped recruit McKinney to Alabama and was his position coach for his true-freshman season of 2017.

“I recruited X for two years,” Ansley said. “He was the same player in high school that he was in college and same player he’s been in pro ball. He’s a pro, he works every day, he’s a good leader, very low maintenance. He’s a ball guy, 24-7. I don’t think he has a whole lot of hobbies. He’d tell you that. But he’s the same player I knew back in Roswell, Georgia, that he is now.”

After serving as defensive backs coach for the Raiders in 2018, Ansley went back to college as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at the University of Tennessee in 2019 and 2020. While with the Vols, he tried to recruit Bullard to Knoxville.

“Javon was a corner originally coming out of high school. Very versatile,” Ansley said. “He was really tough then and he’s tough now. Probably tougher now, going through Georgia with Kirby (Smart) and those guys. They do a really good job. 

“He’s just a phenomenal skill-set. He can do a lot of different things. He’s smart, can pick it up quickly, very instinctive, and when he gets to the point of contact, he gets there with a chip on his shoulder.”

Secondary coach Ryan Downard will work closely with McKinney, Bullard and the other safeties. It will be up to Ansley to figure out who’s going to start alongside Alexander at cornerback. The only addition to that group was seventh-round pick Kalen King.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in that room, got a lot of guys competing,” he said. “This group works like none I’ve been a part of. It’s very consistent work. It’s a healthy competition in the room. Lot of different skill-sets, and it’s been a joy to work with those guys so far.”

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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.