The Green Bay Packers’ secondary is exceptionally talented, but the safety room lacks depth — and it could be empty soon. Adrian Amos is entering the last year of his contract, and Darnell Savage has underperformed in his time with the Green and Gold. The Packers must address many more glaring needs earlier in this year’s draft. However, safety could be an issue as soon as next year. Green Bay should target a late- to mid-round safety to fill a hole on the roster.
Enter Auburn’s Smoke Monday, who is projected to go anywhere from rounds four to six.
Cool name, right? Well, let’s get one thing out of the way: Monday is the face of targeting in college football. Throughout his career, he has been called for targeting seven times. He is a menace to the safety of college football and any player on the offense. If you Google targeting, Monday is one of the first images to come up. Considering how NFL officiating has increasingly favored the offense, this simply won’t fly in the pros.
That is the biggest element that will hold Monday back. Given how many targeting calls he gets, you can assume that he is a hard-hitter. You would be correct. Smoke can lay the boom in the run game and across the middle.
Monday doesn’t just hit hard on defense. In his first two years at Auburn, he was a great special teams contributor. He even came up with a blocked punt in Auburn’s biggest game of the year in 2018. His ability to contribute on special teams would be huge for the Packers, whose special teams unit was a disaster last year.
Furthermore, Monday excels at pass rush. He can be seen making linebacker-like outside pass-rushing plays that put his team in a great position.
Monday’s pass rush needs a lot of work, though. As you could guess, he prides himself on his big hits and plays. He overemphasizes the run game, putting him in positions where he will struggle to cover the pass.
Many will quote his three career pick-sixes as evidence of him excelling at pass coverage. Sure, he can make big plays. However, you can argue that all his pick-sixes came from ill-advised throws. It is great that he is athletic enough to capitalize on these offensive missteps. However, using these as evidence of strong pass coverage would misrepresent what actually happened on the field.
Monday put a lot on tape that would suggest that he has a skillset closer to a linebacker. His former teammate at Auburn, Jamien Sherwood, made the transition from strong safety to linebacker in the NFL, and it worked out quite well for him until he got hurt.
Monday is athletic enough to be solid at both positions. However, given his eagerness to stop the run and his pass-rushing ability, it makes sense for the Packers to work him out as both a linebacker and safety. Doing this could address yet another draft need for Green Bay.
Even if Monday doesn’t play linebacker in the NFL, he can still come down in the tackle box and cover the dynamic hybrid tight ends that have taken over the NFL. His athleticism and size put him in a perfect position to be the counterweight to these tight ends.
Regardless of what position Monday plays in the NFL, he will likely need time to develop and learn. Having him contribute on special teams and sit back and learn proper tackling form from Amos and Savage would be the ideal way for him to succeed in the NFL.
Monday is clearly a developmental player. However, he has a lot of potential and can succeed given the right circumstance. Drafting him is low-risk and high-reward. Given his play-making ability, pulling the trigger on him on draft day would get Packers fans excited.