The Green Bay Packers may have had the steal of April’s NFL draft. General manager Brian Gutekunst selected Georgia Tech Safety Tariq Carpenter with the 228th overall pick in the seventh round. What makes the former four-year starter so unique is his ability to play multiple positions. He can play both safety and linebacker. Green Bay hasn’t had a versatile defensive back quite like this since Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, who played both safety and cornerback.
Carpenter stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 230 pounds. He appeared in 52 games over five seasons playing for the Yellow Jackets. His size, speed and physicality allow him to play a little bit more efficiently at linebacker than safety. The Georgia native is very good in run pursuit, a strong coverage defender (with tight ends), and will be an impactful special teams performer. Carpenter had four interceptions and 17 passes defensed in his collegiate career. He also totaled 223 career tackles with seven tackles for loss. He plays all over the field. That is why Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry could take this already-talented defense to a whole new level.
Carpenter’s ability to play multiple positions will allow for other key players like edge-rusher Rashan Gary, cornerback Jaire Alexander, defensive tackle Kenny Clark and safety Adrian Amos to do their job at an even higher level. Even a great, First-Team All-Pro linebacker like De’Vondre Campbell, who is already a stout all-around defender, will benefit from Carpenter’s versatility. As a young player, he can spell starting defensive backs on certain early downs. Then, he can make key plays on special teams for first-year Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. Drafting Carpenter was a bigger deal than most think.