Packers expected to sign former Falcons and Cardinals linebacker De'Vondre Campbell

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De'Vondre Campbell brings athleticism and experience to an underwhelming Packers linebacker corpsDan Powers/USA TODAY Sports

The Packers will sign linebacker De’Vondre Campbell if his physical checks out today according to a report from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.

Campbell most recently played for the Arizona Cardinals, appearing in all 16 games last season. He recorded 99 tackles, three passes defensed, two sacks, and one fumble forced during his lone season with Arizona.

Prior to his time with the Cardinals, Campbell played four seasons for the Atlanta Falcons after they selected him with the 115th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — just 15 picks before the Packers selected Blake Martinez.

Campbell had an up-and-down run with the Falcons. He appeared in 59 of a possible 64 games during his Atlanta stint (starting 54) and reliably put up pretty solid tackle numbers. He posted at least 92 tackles in three of his four seasons there, peaking at 129 in 2019. Campbell also made a few plays on the ball as a Falcon, logging 5.5 sacks, 16 passes defensed, three interceptions and five forced fumbles.

However, he graded poorly as a run defender, never posting a grade higher than 65.3 over four years with the Falcons, according to Pro Football Focus. His efforts in coverage weren’t much better, peaking at 68.2 in 2019. He failed to improve his grades with the Cardinals. In short, though he piles up consistent tackles, Campbell seems to be an inconsistent presence on defense.

What De’Vondre Campbell brings to the Packers

That’s not to say he’s not without his positive attributes. Campbell brings something the Packers don’t really have in their current linebacking corps: a combination of both size and athleticism. Though he’s a little on the light side at 232 pounds, he’s listed at 6-foot-4, putting him above every other non-edge linebacker currently on the Packers’ roster. Campbell couples that size with 4.58-speed in the 40-yard dash, an elite time for a linebacker.

He also has a wealth of playing experience, something the rest of the Packers’ linebacker corps can’t really match. Dating back to 2017, his first season as a full-time player in Atlanta, Campbell has never played fewer than 880 snaps in a given year. Last season, Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin, the presumed starters at linebacker this season, logged a combined 611 snaps for the Packers.

Given his physical dimensions and athletic profile, Campbell looks like an intriguing addition to the roster and should be in the mix for snaps with Barnes and Martin on the top end of the depth chart.

Reasons for concern about De’Vondre Campbell

However, though he possesses undeniable experience and good physical tools, there’s reason to wonder how much Campbell actually helps the Packers — if at all.

The Packers have consistently lacked several things from their inside linebackers over the last few years, dating back through the Mike Pettine and Dom Capers eras. Packers linebackers have rarely made splash plays (sacks, interceptions, etc.), are reliably below average in run defense and struggle to cover consistently. The last point was such an issue under Pettine that he consistently played extremely light defenses, subbing safeties in for linebackers whenever possible.

Some of these struggles are endemic to the Packers’ defensive schemes. Pettine probably would have played defensive back-heavy defenses even with a playmaker at linebacker. But even given scheme constraints, the Packers haven’t had an athletic playmaker at inside linebacker in nearly a generation, and Campbell seems unlikely to change that.

Most scouting reports dating back to his college years paint Campell as a reliable tackler who struggles in coverage, and that’s essentially who he’s been as a player in the NFL. He’s good enough to get on the field, but he doesn’t shine when on it.

The bottom line on De’Vondre Campbell

Nevertheless, the Packers are probably better at linebacker with Campbell on the roster. Even if he’s not a superstar, the Packers aren’t exactly awash with linebacker talent. Campbell is certainly limited, but the Packers could do worse for a June addition to their roster than a linebacker who’s started more than 50 games in the NFL.

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