With their first pick in the 2019 NFL draft, 12th overall, the Packers selected Rashan Gary. This offseason has shown a new level of commitment for the Packers on the defensive side of the ball. They signed two pass rushers this offseasons and now added a big, versatile defensive linemen in Rashan Gary. NFL.com compared him to Ezekiel Ansah because of his large frame and great athletic ability.
Rashan Gary had a great showing at the 2019 NFL combine and showed how much a athletic freak he is. He ran a 4.58 40 yard dash as a 277 pound man. To compare that to other packer players, Davante Adams ran 4.56. He is a freak athlete that will provide an immediate impact on the Packers defense. Rashan Gary showed his work ethic in preparation for the NFL combine by working with former olympic runner Michael Johnson to assure he performed the best he could. Gary could be seen on NFL Network’s “Path to the Draft” talking about head placement and momentum on his 40 yard dash. He would run countless reps making sure he had the best form possible. The Packers should be excited to see such great work ethic in their new draft pick and love his focus on detail moving forward.
Two areas of concern for Rashan Gary are his overall stats from last season and his current shoulder injury. For an overall dominate athlete, Rashan Gary did not have the strongest stat line at Michigan last year. He is a quick, powerful 277 pound defensive linemen, but only had 9.5 sacks in three seasons with the Wolverines. There are reasons for this such as the shoulder injury this past season, and also using him in the wrong way. He is now coming to a team with two strong defensive linemen in Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, and two new high paid free agents. Rashan Gary coming to a talented defensive unit could help the poor stats we saw during his time at Michigan. He was the best defensive linemen on the team, so offenses could plan how to limit his impact. Gary is coming to a team with two impactful defensive linemen, so with less attention his stat line should improve. Another more serious concern is his shoulder injury. He was flagged for having a possible torn labrum, but is expected to play this season. Gary’s injury is one that he can play through, but will most likely need to have surgery at the end of his rookie season. For a team who has been injury plagued over the past few years, it is scary to pick a player with an injury, but his high ceiling might be worth it.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine did not have many pieces to work with last season, but this coming season we should see a whole new defensive intensity. Rashan Gary is a versatile player who can play defensive end or defensive tackle. He will allow Pettine to push new signee Za’Darius Smith inside in certain defensive packages where he had a lot of success for the Ravens in 2018. The Packers defensive line now has a potential starting unit of Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Za’Darius Smith. The Packers have upgraded their weakest area on the team last year to now one of the strongest in the whole NFL.
I am making way-too-soon bold prediction that we need to start making a cool new nickname for this Packers defensive line. I will accept anything better than the Vikings’ purple people eaters. That shouldn’t be too hard to beat.