Once more on Charles Woodson's position

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
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Thursday's Big Question series was intended mostly as a post-draft gathering point than an attempt to break new ground, but many of you were left with further questions about the Green Bay Packers' open safety position after reading the post. Lance of Beloit, Wis., writes:
Are Charlie Peprah and Jerron McMillian the only to viable options to replace Nick Collins? I have read reports that Charles Woodson may be moved to safety. Casey Hayward would be moved into Woodson's starting role. This was talked about on the Packers' website. I see this being an option also replace Collins and prolong Woodson career like Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott.
[+] EnlargeDane Sanzenbacher
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Packers believe Charles Woodson is versatile enough to play any position in the secondary.
Yes, Packers.com guru Vic Ketchman wrote: "[C]onsensus opinion is that a move from cornerback could do for Woodson’s career what it did for Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson, which is to have lengthened its greatness." And defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn't exactly reject the idea last week after the Packers not only drafted McMillian, but also cornerback Casey Hayward.

"Charles is a bright guy," Capers said. "It's not like it would be a radical move because of the way we've used him in the last three years, basically. We feel he can play any one of those positions. That's one of the things he brings to the table is the flexibility that he gives you that he can."

Capers uses one of the more creative schemes in the game, and in some of his more elaborate formations, it's difficult to tell who is playing what position. Technically, Woodson has lined up as a cornerback, a slot nickel man and as a linebacker at various times over the past three years. The only way to tell if Woodson is a full-time safety is if he lines up there in the rare occasions when the Packers use their standard 3-4 base formation.

We've hit this topic often both in the blog and our weekly SportsNation chats. My take remains the same. Cornerback is a more important position and more difficult position than safety. Moving Woodson to safety only makes sense if the Packers have a strong option to replace him at cornerback.

Is that the case? Last year at this time, we might have thought Sam Shields was ready for that role. Shields took a step back last season. Could Hayward be that player? That might be a lot to ask a rookie. In February, at least, coach Mike McCarthy strongly implied that Woodson primarily will be a cornerback in 2012.

McCarthy could change his mind, of course, but at this point I wonder if he's more willing to take a chance with an unproven player at safety than he is at cornerback.

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