Keisean Nixon will have Opportunity to Make Impact with Packers

Cornerback Keisean Nixon will have the opportunity to make an impact on special teams as well as potentially on defense, where slot competition is needed.


It was a free agent addition that likely flew a bit under the radar, but in late March, the Green Bay Packers would sign cornerback Keisean Nixon to a one-year deal worth $1.77 million.

It wasn't an addition that moved the needle, but Nixon was likely hand-picked by new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, and he will also have the opportunity to earn some snaps on defense--where Green Bay will have to replace Chandon Sullivan's 674 snaps from the slot.

The 5'10" - 193 pound Nixon went undrafted in 2019 and has spent his first three NFL seasons with Las Vegas, playing under -- you guessed it -- Rich Bisaccia. Nixon has 704 total special teams snaps in his career, playing on just about every phase from kick return to punt return, to both coverage units, along with being on the field goal block team.

Defensively, Nixon isn't as seasoned, with just 274 career snaps, but he did spend most of his time in the slot this past season, which is where the Green Bay Packers are in need of some competition.

According to PFF, Nixon was targeted five times in 2021 and allowed four receptions but for only 21 yards--or 5.3 yards per catch. He also recorded one quarterback pressure as well.

While Jaire Alexander will certainly see his fair share of snaps from the slot this season, he is still going to play on the boundary. In fact, where Alexander lines up is largely going to depend on who the opponent is and where their top receiver is aligned. One week, Alexander could lead the team in slot snaps; the next he may barely step foot inside.

So that is one of the questions that will have to be solved this summer--who is going to take those slot snaps when Alexander is on the boundary?

When meeting with reporters last week, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray mentioned that the corners will be "cross-trained" to play both from the slot and on the boundary.

So in all likelihood, there is no one answer to that question--rather, it is going to be a group effort. We could see Eric Stokes with his 4.25-speed line up inside against speed threats, while Rasul Douglas could move to the slot against bigger pass-catching options, such as George Kittle, for example. 

In addition to Stokes and Douglas, Gray would also bring up Darnell Savage and Keisean Nixon as options in the slot, adding that Nixon "played really well inside...and he's great on special teams."

Other options at cornerback include Shemar Jean-Charles, Rico Gafford, Kabion Ento, and Kiondre Thomas, but what Nixon has over each of them is experience. In addition to having Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas as options from the slot, if Joe Barry can lean on Nixon, that will provide him with even more flexibility to mix and match what his secondary looks like--which could include having Douglas take some snaps from the box as he did occassionally last season.

Now, with that said, I have to imagine that it's Joe Barry's intention to keep Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas on the field together as often as possible. So even if Nixon emerges as a reliable option, he is still going to be the fourth cornerback on the depth chart, and his playing time will refelct that. Not to mention that any potential playing time will still have to be earned this summer.

However, for a signing that didn't draw much attention, Nixon could become a core special teams player for this Green Bay Packers team and hopefully help with the turnaround while also potentially giving this defense an added slot presence when needed. Ultimately, we will have to see how things play out over the next few months, but Keisean Nixon is going to have the opportunity to make an impact this season.

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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2 points

Comments (12)

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greengold's picture

May 23, 2022 at 12:19 pm

It’s funny, Paul, but, Keisean Nixon brings with him enormous value potential, right in line with most of Brian Gutekunst’s signings.

Joe Barry is going to be running a TON of Nickel packages this season, hence, the Quay Walker selection at 22 last month. Nixon is a perfect fit in our D as he played exclusively as a Nickel Cornerback, actually, with great success with the Raiders.

His value on STs should prove huge, but, Nixon certainly isn’t limited to that, and is anything but one dimensional. Just another yawner player signing to many, but he could prove to be a highly valuable this year.

This DB room is deceiving in its real depth. We got some ballers there.

Take CB Shemar Jean-Charles. Not the biggest guy. Not the fastest guy (4.42). He was selected with Full-time Nickel Corner experience at Appalachian St. His 37% Catch Rate Allowed was the 3rd lowest EVER RECORDED in PFF’s 8 year history.

In 2020, he ranked #1 in FBS in PBUs with 16, and #1 in FBS with 17 PD.

“Sherm,” has is an innate ability to deflect passes at the catch point. He’s gifted in this regard. Understands his speed limitations and compensates through film study and positioning himself accordingly. SJC had 30 career PDs. If you follow that stat in drafted CBs, it’s a remarkable number.

Throw in Rico Gafford, and our CB depth could be more solid than any of us might have thought previously, especially with Nixon here.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 23, 2022 at 02:23 pm

"he played exclusively as a Nickel Cornerback, actually, with great success with the Raiders."

Absolutely no evidence of this, quite the opposite in fact. Gave up 20 completions on 27 targets for 322 yards. 11.9 yards/target, 16.1 per completion. Getting deep in here.

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greengold's picture

May 23, 2022 at 06:03 pm

It was off the top of my head... and I had looked into him a bit.

In 2021 he defended 43 routes, allowing just 5 receptions for an average of 3.4 yds on 50 snaps from the slot, and a Passer Rating of 66.3. Played 52 of his 81 defensive snaps from the slot.

In the 4 games he played on D he faced DEN's Tim Patrick, allowing 0 receptions on 1 Target, Jerry Jeudy allowing 1 reception on 2 Targets for 4 yds. Against CLE he allowed 2 receptions to Demetric Felton on 2 Targets for 13 yds. Versus CIN he received 0 Targets facing Tyler Boyd.

In his 22 Run D snaps in 2021 Nixon had 7 Tackles.

Nixon had 274 career defensive snaps with the Raiders. 183 of those came on the boundary, but he was used primarily as a Nickel Corner in 2021.

in 2020 Nixon defended 76 routes, allowing 14 receptions.

In 2019 Nixon defended 23 routes, allowing 4 receptions, his rookie year.

Players can show progression, LLCHESTY. It appears he played alright in his extremely limited D opportunities in 2021 with the Raiders. We're talking about potential at one of the #4, #5 or #6 CB positions.

Maybe try looking up the game logs on him, and the game situations he was in for context on your numbers presented. Ever hear of a Sophomore Slump? Looks like he improved in his Year 3 at LV.

Keisean is Snoop Dogg's nephew. Pretty cool. I hope he is able to continue his development further under Jerry Gray.

We'll see.

PS, LLCHESTY, we’re both fans of the Packers. I’m human and make mistakes like any other. But, I have no agenda to pump up players. I’m certainly a positive person, and, I research a ton of stuff. Watch a lot of tape. Go back to players college profiles with new signings to see what brought them into the NFL in the first place.

I certainly don’t mind being called out on erroneous info, and actually appreciate it. But, if I do make a statement like that, there’s something I read or recall - somehow - in the recesses of what’s left of my gray matter as the impetus. Wishing I could locate another review of his play which sparked that. Also, while I do check game logs, and sometimes dig into the play by plays to see if some of the stuff was garbage time or tight situation…That can matter. just wanted to share that.

Just totally into the personnel side of the Packers, Brewers & Bucks since I was a kid. It kind of takes me back… Cheers, man!

-3 points
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Duneslick's picture

May 23, 2022 at 03:21 pm

I dont think Shemar ran a 4.42. Closer to 4.62

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dobber's picture

May 23, 2022 at 03:42 pm

No Combine, Pro Day 4.52.

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greengold's picture

May 23, 2022 at 09:40 pm

Sorry. 4.47 (my mistake) according to The Appalachian at his April 1st 2021 Pro Day. 35” vertical too. Nixon is simply a guy Bisaccia wanted who Jerry Gray likely saw potential in as one of the Nickel Corner candidates. Gray did make mention of him for that slot position recently.

SJC was also known for his solid ST play.

The more a player can do the better. Let’s see what Nixon does here. We’re talking about a backup… depth at the position. A developmental player at CB and ST starter.

Nixon was selected to PFF’s All Rookie Preseason Team in 2019 as the top CB. On 15 Targets in 90 coverage snaps he allowed a 42.4 passer rating, fwiw.

If he offers something on D, great.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 23, 2022 at 12:20 pm

When it came to that slot position, I wondered if “Nixon was the one”? 😉. But seriously, it looks like the others mentioned in the article may be a better fit to actually play on defense and not just ST’s.

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 23, 2022 at 12:24 pm

I don't see Nixon playing on D much. And if the Packers bring back King on another one year deal, Nixon will mostly see snaps on STs. To that I say "hooray!"

It was gratifying Bisaccia seems to have arrived in Green Bay with a team commitment to FINALLY focus on ST excellence. Nixon, O'Donnell, and the draft class are serious evidence STs are back on the menu.

Bisaccia knows Nixon is a leader on STs and loves to play on them. That will be an infectious attitude. You can coach behavior, but not attitude.

3 points
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PeteK's picture

May 23, 2022 at 03:33 pm

I'm guessing that they replaced Sullivan with Nixon because their contracts are the same. So let's get to training camp and see what happens with all these choices. Most teams are worried more about corners 1,2 & 3.

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greengold's picture

May 23, 2022 at 06:10 pm

Exactly, Pete! Man, we are SO fortunate there. Most teams would love to have our DBs.

I actually can’t wait to see what Joe Barry does this year, but with more pressure up front, the Packers secondary should benefit greatly.

Also love the stealth Gutekunst used in signing Rico Gafford to his futures contract in January (?) and switching him back to CB… TC is going to be super fun to watch this year. Might go up a few times if possible.

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PeteK's picture

May 23, 2022 at 07:09 pm

Absolutely might be more pressure up front with the speed and agility of Wyatt and Walker .

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 24, 2022 at 03:58 am

Nixon signed for the minimum of $965K. The $1.77M was for Watkins.

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