When the Packers picked Rashan Gary at pick number 12 in the 2019 NFL Draft, many scouts, coaches, and analysts were surprised to see that Gary went so early in the draft.
Guys like Brian Burns, Noah Fant, and Christian Wilkins were expected to be at the forefront of Packers GM Brian Gutekunst’s mind with the 12th selection.
Instead, the Packers went with a football player who is so athletic, the scouts overlooked the technique of Rashan Gary. The Packers always preach that they look for guys who have attributes in which one cannot coach. Their defensive line means being capable of making “football plays” instinctively.
Another Packers rookie that will no doubt have a stand-out season is Safety Darnell Savage. Savage, a hard-hitting, agile safety out of Maryland, has a solid shot at making quite an impact this season. However, after DL Mike Daniels’ departure, opportunity is screaming right at Rashan Gary.
With Gary showing his athleticism in camp, Head Coach Matt LaFleur has said “What I really like is the effort that he plays with. A change of speed, a burst to max speed, then the finish.”
Gary no doubt has the ability to get the job done, but the question remains how will he get the job done.
According to NFL.com’s Draft Profile on Rashan Gary, his strengths include:
- Ability to set the edge as an edge rusher
- Qualities that disrupt the overall flow of the game
- Solid pursuit
The language from an NFL.com draft profile may be vague, but specificity is not needed for what Rashan Gary can do. He is an athlete.
Even if Gary is a solid athlete, athleticism alone will not allow for a young football player to flourish into the next Aaron Donald, per se. Every young football player needs to be coached, trained and molded into the defense that they are going to be raised in. With Mike Pettine as the Packers defensive coordinator, he prefers a defensive lineman who is tall, strong and lengthy. A mold that former Packers DL Mike Daniels did not fit. The good news for Gary is that he does fit this “mold” set by Pettine. The bad news is Gary is going to need a lot of direction and coaching. Every player needs to be coached because that is part of the game. NFL.com scouts think that Gary may need a little more attention with his technique.
Gary’s major weaknesses include:
- A basic rushing attack
- Lack of developed technique
- A high motor with no control
When a player is chosen at the 12th spot in any NFL draft, that player is expected to make an immediate impact on day one. As Gary will make an impact on the first day he steps onto the field against the Chicago Bears, he needs to be able to have a solid gameplan for taking down the quarterback. So far in Packers training camp, Gary has flourished athletically as expected.
With the loss of Mike Daniels, usual circumstances in Green Bay would cause for more pressure to fall onto Rashan Gary. This year though? Not quite the case. The Packers are known for their lack of activity in the free-agent market. The additions of ZaDarius Smith and Preston Smith this off-season ease the tensions and take the pressure off of Gary to perform. Of course, the Packers are still going to want to see production at the DL for Gary, but with two veterans alongside him, the Packers will not be so eager to see results, nor will they necessarily need them right away.