Packers Draft Prospects to Improve Edge Rushing

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After a 2018 season that resulted in a cleaning of the house, the Green Bay Packers must begin a rebuild of sorts as they prepare for the 2019 season. New head coach Matt LaFleur has been given the reins of the franchise and understands that for the Packers to win NFC North titles and contend for Super Bowl berths the team must improve its ability to rush the passer – especially from the edge.

A year ago, third-year linebacker Kyler Fackrell somehow managed to come up with 10.5 sacks to lead the Packers. Six of his sacks came against Seattle and Buffalo. Not surprisingly, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was among the most-sacked quarterbacks (51) in the league and Allen (sacked 28 times) finished with a QB rating of 67.9, which was better than only Arizona’s Josh Rosen. The bottom line is Green Bay needs edge rushers …stat!

2019 Crop of Pass Rushers

One positive for the Packers is that the 2019 draft is loaded with edge rushers. The Packers, who will pick at No. 12, will miss out on Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, the two top defensive ends in the draft. Bosa, at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, is expected to go No. 1 even though he missed most of last season recovering from an injury. Ferrell (6-5, 260) was part of Clemson’s outstanding defensive line. He wound up with 11.5 sacks for the national champion Tigers. There are plenty of others left for Green Bay to focus on though.

Josh Allen Kentucky

Josh Allen reacts to the crowd during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2019 Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen, Kentucky
Allen was one of the big reasons why Kentucky’s defense was among the best in the nation in 2018. Allen stands 6-4 and weighs in right around 260 pounds. His best quality is his burst at the line of scrimmage. He gets off quickly and can wreak havoc on offensive linemen. Allen was able to use his talents to record 17.0 sacks in 2018 and remember that’s against SEC talent.

Allen plays consistently with a high motor and will battle through contact though he needs to improve his lower body strength. It will be interesting to see whether Allen will play as a standup outside linebacker or a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end. Or both, of which he is certainly capable.

Jachai Polite sacks Joe Burrow

Jachai Polite (99) pressures LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jachai Polite, Florida
Polite might be exactly what Green Bay is looking for – a speedy edge rusher – and the Packers might be exactly what Polite needs to become a first-round draft pick. Polite was used extensively at Florida as a pass rush specialist. He parlayed that role into 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last season. While Polite is an outstanding speed rusher, his lack of size makes him a liability as a point-of-attack defender.

At 6-2 and 240 pounds, Polite has the type of speed that makes him a dangerous pass rusher, a throwback to a Dwight Freeney-type coming off the edge. Polite has plenty of pass rush moves too knowing that his overall lack of size and power result in him getting beat when he gets tied up with an offensive lineman.

He will likely test high at the combine and a pro day and because of his fit in a 3-4 system, could be the perfect choice for a Packers defense looking for pass rush help.

Chevan Cordeiro sacked by Jaylon Ferguson

Chevan Cordeiro (12) is chased down in the backfield by Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defensive end Jaylon Ferguson (45) during the second quarter of the SoFi Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Erler-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
The edge rush sleeper just might be Ferguson, who recorded 17.5 sacks in 2018 and 45 for his career at Louisiana Tech. Yes, questions will come up about the level of competition, but anyone that watched Ferguson against LSU will realize he can play with the best.

Ferguson is all of 6-5 and 270 pounds and has man hands. He has tremendous strength, which allowed him to toss around an LSU right tackle like he as a high school player. Ferguson is an average athlete with limited flexibility, something he will have to improve. He has good explosiveness off the ball and is rock-solid at the point of attack. Ferguson is a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end who might be a stretch as a first- or even second-round pick.

Montez Sweat - Mississippi State

Jarrett Stidham (8) runs the ball while being defended by Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive end Montez Sweat (9) during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
In two seasons at Mississippi State, Sweat recorded 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. A transfer from Michigan State, Sweat plays with tenacious aggressiveness and has a wingspan that is massive. At 6-5 and 240 pounds, Sweat has the size, range, and toughness to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL.

Sweat could use some weight, but projects as a 4-3 defensive end. Can he fit in the Packers scheme? If he is good enough, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will find a way to use Sweat’s talents.

Outside the Box

After Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald led the NFL in sacks last season with 20.5, the Packers could find some pass rush help from a source other than an edge rusher. It has been said more than once that Houston’s Ed Oliver is the most talented player in the upcoming draft. Oliver is 6-3 and 290 pounds but is a rare athlete with Donald-like traits.

While Oliver may be gone by pick No. 12, the Packers could find a similar prospect in Michigan’s Rashan Gary. Coming out of high school, Gary was considered the nation’s top prospect and at 6-5, 280 pounds Gary was used at every position on the Wolverines defensive line.

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9 Comments on "Packers Draft Prospects to Improve Edge Rushing"

  1. Kato

    One other thing about Josh Allen: he is athletic enough to play in coverage as well. That is incredibly important. Deception is important in a defense and the fact he isn’t a one trick pony is valuable. Remember one of the biggest plays in super bowl history was James Harrison returning an interception 100 yards for a TD

      • Kato

        Yeah, honestly will probably end up as one of the top 2 picks. I have seen some mocks that have moved him ahead of Joey Bosa and have him pegged as the #1 pick. I feel if he is available at 4, make a move. According to the draft position point chart, the packers giving up their 12th and 30th picks would be slightly more valuable than the 4th pick. I imagine there will be teams trying to move up to take QBs, which is laughable because none of the guys this year are any good in my opinion

  2. PF4L

    Wait for the combine…then you wait for the draft, then you wait for camp, then you wait for pre-season, then you wait for regular season,

    Then, and only then sometime in the first year or two, will you now have a clue if this player even belongs in the NFL

    That’s why, this time of the year, the draft, is called ….silly season.

  3. PF4L

    I just listened to Greg Jennings on Bill Micheals show and i felt i had share it.

    I don’t like guys like Jennings, Finley, but…….

    Jennings just floored me. He was speaking about how the offense is running with rookie receivers compared to the offense of years back when Jennings was with the Pack.

    He contends it’s like night and day. When rookie receivers are trying to find their way, where to line up, trying to run the right route etc.He said that when he played…..the receivers felt if they weren’t the first one to get open for Rodgers, they weren’t getting the ball. So there was a competition between the receivers to get open first, so they get their touches. Wow….talk about a complete 180 from what we’ve been seeing.

    Finley…spoke about the money they spent on Graham and how it was wasting Rodgers talents. He also mentioned he thought Cook was the last good tight end they had, and that we could get him now for less money than Graham, and that he was better than Graham.

    Again, i don’t like these two guys. But i agree 100% with them. Like i always say, give credit when it’s due.

    Now i have to get back to pretending i’m working.

  4. Deepsky

    Who of you will freak out when the Packers take one of their first rounds picks…..and takes a quarterback.

    I think there is a chance this current regime will do what newly minted GM Ted Thompson did in 2005.

    • PF4L

      I would freak out. I also would bet all the money i have that it doesn’t happen. I would liquidate my whole life savings, and i would gamble every cent of it. That’s right, i’d be willing to risk it all….all in baby…$1,849.49

  5. Ash Paladium

    Packers should be trading up and doing whatever they need to do to get Bosa or Josh Allen. They need a leader like that on defense that makes everyone around them better.

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