The Green Bay Packers are already planning a position change for one of their newly drafted rookie defenders.
In a post-draft video with Larry McCarren of Packers.com, head coach Matt LaFleur said the team will be moving seventh-round pick Tariq Carpenter from safety to inside linebacker as he prepares for his rookie season in 2022. Carpenter was the Packers’ first of four seventh-round picks (No. 228 overall) and the only defensive back they drafted.
“I think with Tariq, we’re going to move him to the inside linebacker room,” LaFleur told McCarren on April 30. “He’s a big guy, but he can run.”
Carpenter, who started 41 games at safety for Georgia Tech, was expected to transition into more of a hybrid safety/linebacker at the NFL level because of his size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and run-stopping physicality. While the Packers could still take advantage of his versatility and deploy him in multiple spots across their secondary, the position change suggests they believe he is best suited in the middle of their defense.
The Packers now have nine inside linebackers on their 90-man offseason roster, including 2021 first-round pick Quay Walker and a pair of undrafted rookies — Caliph Brice and Ellis Brooks — who agreed to terms on deals with the team on May 2. The team is also set to return All-Pro starter De’Vondre Campbell, two-year starter Krys Barnes, Ty Summers, Isaiah McDuffie and Ray Wilborn from last season.
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Carpenter’s Roster Spot Hinges on Special Teams
Carpenter might be getting re-classified as an inside linebacker, but his stripes will still have to be earned as a special teams asset if he hopes to win a roster spot as a rookie. Fortunately for him, the third phase was one of the places where he thrived in college.
Throughout his five seasons at Georgia Tech, Carpenter was regularly involved on special teams and played on all four of the Yellow Jackets’ primary units, including punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. Not only did he offer the physicality and secure tackling of a linebacker, but he also brought an impressive amount of speed — he ran the 40 in 4.47 seconds at the NFL scouting combine — that helped him cover ground.
Green Bay could certainly use a special teams weapon like that.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst also disclosed that special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia had Carpenter’s name on his list of 2022 draft prospects he thought could be valuable additions for the Packers in the third phase. Bisaccia also liked the special teams profiles of fourth-round receiver Romeo Doubs and fifth-round edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare, according to what Gutekunst told reporters after the draft.