Even in an offensive favored league, the NFL’s premier teams still know that defense wins championships. The Bears went and traded for the best linebacker in the NFL, Khalil Mack. Not only did Mack bolster the Bears defense, but he also changed their entire team and possibly the entire makeup of the NFC North.
The years of the Packers’ elite defense of Superbowl XLV was tarnished as far back as four years ago. Clay Matthews is a shell of what he used to be, Nick Perry can’t stay healthy, and it seems like the Packers’ draft picks aren’t panning out. The Packers need a pass rush that will allow for their young secondary to flourish and Rashan Gary could be that guy.
Rashan Gary, a 6-5, 285lb edge rusher would be a great fit in this Packers 3-4 defensive scheme. Gary has the desirable size for an edge rusher, someone that could make a three-man rush feel effective.
Gary has spent the last three years of his young football career at the University of Michigan under Coach Jim Harbaugh. In those three years, he has recorded 9.5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, and 57 solo tackles. Needless to say, he has great upside with some solid stats to back up his performance thus far.
Gary’s upsides are his size, his speed, and his vision. He has the size to play either DE or Edge Rusher, his speed allows him to attack the quarterback, and his vision is as great as any other DE in this year’s draft. As a Junior at Michigan, it became clear to other teams that Gary shouldn’t be allowed to go one-on-one against another offensive lineman, because Gary will win nine out of ten times. Gary is also a big hitter, something that is a positive, just don’t look at Clay Matthews in 2018. Gary has something that most past rushers on the Packers lack– first step quickness off of the ball. Khalil Mack is always a step ahead of his opponent, and as Clay Matthews used to be. The Packers need someone who is going to come in and make an impact at that edge rusher position. The first sign of a great pass rusher is his first-step quickness, you have to beat the offensive lineman off of the ball if you want to get pressure onto the quarterback.
The only glaring downside for Gary in this year’s draft is the fact that there are players like Clelin Ferrill, Josh Allen, Montez Sweat in this draft that are just as talented if not more talented than Gary himself. There is no doubt that Gary is a first-round talent. Where he gets drafted will depend on the needs of teams as well as the value of the players in front of him. It would be hard to imagine Rashan Gary being drafted ahead of Josh Allen from Kentucky.
How he would fit with the Packers:
If the Packers draft Rashan Gary it would be a much-needed addition to the pass rush. Gary could fit into the defensive end position or even outside linebacker/edge rusher as well. The amazing thing about Gary is that he has the potential to do both, like Khalil Mack. If the Packers are going to have him on the three-man front, that would indicate that they are going to draft another player to fill that edge rusher need, because that is clearly the higher priority here. Gary has the size, speed, and attitude to get the job done, it all depends on how the draft board falls to see if he will end up in the Green and Gold.