Time to see if Packers’ top pick Damarious Randall can compete for starting job
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers still don’t have their entire draft class on the field. Third-round pick Ty Montgomery is barred from organized team activities because his alma mater, Stanford, is still in session.
At least their top draft choice has now been cleared.
Damarious Randall, the 30th overall pick in the draft, finally got the chance to line up in 11-on-11 drills. He missed rookie camp last month because of an ankle injury he sustained while working out before the draft and when OTAs began last week, he was limited to individual drills only.
“It’s good to get him in the team stuff, get him past the individual work,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Tuesday’s practice.
Now, it’s time to see whether Randall can make a run at Tramon Williams’ old starting job.
It might be a stretch to ask a rookie to start Week 1 at a challenging position like cornerback, especially a rookie who did not play the position in college. Randall played primarily safety at Arizona State, although he said he always thought of himself as a corner.
“A lot of people say that I move like a corner, and that just feels like my natural position,” Randall said. “That’s something I did in junior college and in high school. I just need to learn the playbook and get better at something day by day.”
The Packers plan to test Randall as an outside cover man right away. He played right cornerback with the No. 2 defense during Tuesday’s OTA. His most noticeable play came during the two-minute period, when he appeared to fall for a double move by undrafted rookie receiver Larry Pinkard, who found himself several steps behind Randall. It would have been 35-yard touchdown, but Pinkard dropped it.
“It feels good to be out there with the guys and to just have film so I can go and correct my mistakes and work on the things I’m doing well,” Randall said.
Casey Hayward looked like the favorite to win Williams’ job, but the fourth-year pro has been sidelined for the entire offseason program because of a foot injury. In the meantime, Demetri Goodson, who didn’t play a single snap on defense as a rookie last season, has practiced in Williams’ spot with the defensive starters so far, and second-round pick Quinten Rollins has played mostly in the slot as the nickel cornerback.
Hayward says he expects to return in time for the starting of training camp on July 30 but between now and then, Randall will have plenty of time to make an impression.