Christian Kirksey needs to be healthy for Packers in 2020

With a dearth of talent at inside linebacker, Christian Kirksey is going to play a critical role for the Green Bay Packers’ defense in 2020.

New Green Bay Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey has been a bit of an enigma throughout his NFL career. When he is healthy, he is one of the most underrated inside linebackers in the game. The only problem is the fact that it has been awhile since the league has seen a healthy Kirksey.

A former third-round pick of the Browns in 2014 from Iowa, Kirksey quietly built himself up into being a really solid linebacker. 2016 and 2017 were the two best years of Kirksey’s six-year career so far. With 286 combined tackles in the two-year span, Kirksey was one of the best at his position at the time.

While Cleveland expected Kirksey to be a star, he was never able to reach that level because of the fact he only played seven games in 2018 and two games in 2019. With a fresh start in Green Bay, Kirksey is more than ready to work in his new home.

Defensively, Kirksey fits in well with what Green Bay likes to do. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was actually Kirksey’s head coach in 2014 and 2015, so there is already a rapport built between the two.

In addition, the loss of Blake Martinez to the Giants left a hole in the middle of Green Bay’s defense. With Kirksey on the market, Green Bay made a play to sign him on a two-year $16 million deal.

Kirksey will have plenty of support as well. Preston and Za’darius Smith play key roles at bending the edge at outside linebacker while Kenny Clark plugs up the run game at defensive tackle. Kevin King and Jaire Alexander handled cornerback duties really well in 2019 and Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos play the back end at safety.

All the pieces are in place for Green Bay’s defense to succeed. Filling in the middle linebacker spot with Kirksey adds a veteran leadership quality that it was missing previously. As long as he is healthy, Kirksey could be just what Green Bay needs to take the next step.

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