LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton could fill a pressing need for Packers
Latest in a Packers Prospects series looking at players Green Bay could select in the April 23-25 NFL draft.
GREEN BAY - It was more than a high-powered offense led by a Heisman Trophy quarterback that led LSU to its national championship last season.
The Tigers had an opportunistic, if not always dominant, defense. They were full of playmakers in their secondary, tying Alabama for the SEC lead with 17 interceptions.
Kristian Fulton had only one pick as a junior last year, but he was a big part of that secondary. Fulton was consistently difficult to throw against, leading LSU with 14 pass breakups. He has emerged as a potential first-round pick, and arguably the Tigers’ top defensive back prospect entering this draft.
It hasn’t been a smooth road for the 6-foot, 197-pound Fulton. He missed more than a year and a half of snaps because of suspension after altering a urine sample to test for PEDs. After missing all of 2017, Fulton returned in 2018 to became an immediate starter. He started all 15 games last season as the Tigers cruised to their national championship.
DOUGHERTY: Free agency does little to address Packers' most urgent needs
SILVERSTEIN: Blake Martinez could thrive away from Packers' system
The Packers enter this draft stronger in their secondary than they’ve been the past several years. Still, this is the Packers, a team that from 2015-18 used five first- or second-round picks on cornerbacks. Taking a corner early is always an option, and in this case Fulton would provide depth to an otherwise thinned position behind starters Kevin King and Jaire Alexander.
Age next season: 22.
Combine measurables: 4.46 40, 35.5-inch vertical jump, 123-inch broad jump.
Stats: 38 tackles, 1 interception, 14 passes defended.
Pro Football Focus analysis: Fulton was thrown into a starting role at outside corner before the 2018 season and made an immediate impact. He allowed just 17 of 41 targets to be caught and produced an 89.7 coverage grade in 2018. This past season, Fulton’s coverage grade was among the 10 best at his position, and he had the third highest forced incompletion rate at 29.0%. Fulton at the catch point has been one of the best in the country. He’s at his peak in press man coverage — his 323 coverage snaps played in press coverage were the third most in the country, and he was among the 15 best FBS corners in raw PFF grade per snap in press against stiff competition.
Draftniks say: “Really solid, really good football player. Just concerns about his deep speed, what does he run.” – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Quotable: “Just from a competitive standpoint, I felt like being in the SEC, I go up against the best receivers. You can look and tell me who's put up numbers on me. I feel like that's what really separates me. I mean, like you said, it's a great cornerback class, but I don't feel like nobody's technique is as sound as mine. And I just get the job done every Saturday, I feel like.” – Kristian Fulton