Countdown to Camp: Jaire Alexander's promise sparks Packers' secondary surge


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Countdown to Camp is a series of stories examining the Packers' roster, position by position, leading up to training camp. The eighth installment features the defensive backs.

GREEN BAY – As anticipation builds for the 2020 season, there is perhaps no young Packers player on the radar of more NFL pundits than third-year cornerback Jaire Alexander.

Still only 23 years old, Alexander already has 27 career regular-season starts to his name. A PFWA All-Rookie Team pick in 2018, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback came back with 58 tackles, 17 passes defensed and two interceptions during his sophomore season.

While Alexander looks to turn more of his deflections into takeaways, his speed and coverage ability already have catapulted him into the national conversation of the league's top young corners, with New England head coach Bill Belichick being among Alexander's football admirers.

Alexander has led the youth movement in Green Bay's secondary over the past two years, a shift that's often resulted in the young cornerback squaring off with the league's best receivers on a weekly basis. It's a challenge he hasn't backed down from, earning Alexander high marks from football-analysis syndicates like Pro Football Focus.

Joining Alexander in that effort has been third-year cornerback Kevin King, who started every game on the perimeter for the Packers in 2019 after injuries limited the former second-round pick to only 15 appearances through his first two seasons.

An unrestricted free agent next spring, King will look to build upon a healthy and productive campaign in which the 6-foot-3 cornerback led Green Bay with five interceptions. His 15 passes defensed trailed only Alexander.

With Tramon Williams still unsigned, the Packers will enter training camp with third-year veteran Chandon Sullivan as the presumptive slot cornerback in their nickel package – a key spot in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's defense.

Sullivan signed with Green Bay days after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2019 NFL Draft. The 23-year-old cornerback not only made the Packers' 53-man roster, but also earned spot as the fourth cornerback in the dime defense.

Sullivan had 30 tackles and six passes defensed in 16 games, highlighted by his first NFL interception in Green Bay's 34-24 win over Dallas last October.

Meanwhile, Josh Jackson, drafted one round after Alexander in 2018, remains one of the team's great unknowns entering his third NFL season.

The 6-foot, 196-pound cornerback played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting 10 of them, but saw his second season disrupted by a foot injury that landed Jackson on the non-football injury to start training camp. He returned to play in 14 regular-season games but took only 103 defensive snaps.

Green Bay didn't draft a cornerback this past April but has several developmental prospects on the roster, including 2019 sixth-round pick Ka'dar Hollman, converted receiver Kabion Ento, and undrafted free agents Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Stanford Samuels, Will Sunderland and DaShaun Amos.