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A (Mostly) Objective Look at First Round Packers’ Picks Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage, Jr.

In the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected two defensive players to help solidify a defense that gave up 25 points per game last season, 22nd in the league. With the 12th pick, the Packers selected defensive end Rashan Gary out of Michigan and with the 21st pick(obtained from trading up via Seattle Seahawks), the Packers selected safety Darnell Savage, Jr out of Maryland.


Rashan Gary – DE (Michigan)

Rashan Gary - Michigan

Rashan Gary (3) rushes in the first half against the Western Michigan Broncos at Michigan Stadium. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Gary was one of the top recruits coming out of high school in 2016 after being named the top defensive player in New Jersey in both 2014 and 2015. He made an immediate impact as a freshman in a back up role. Gary played in every game, recording a sack, five tackles for loss of yardage and 27 tackles overall. As a sophomore, Gary gained recognition at the college level, making first-team All-Big Ten after recording six sacks and 66 total tackles. Although his overall numbers dropped in 2018, Gary repeated first-team honors with seven tackles for loss of yardage and 3.5 sacks.

Gary brings explosiveness and strength off the line, which should make him a very good defender against the run. It has been noted that Gary prefers the bull-rush technique and needs to work on other moves to enable him to work the outside and be an effective NFL pass rusher. Gary shows side-to-side quickness but often plays too fast and out of control, putting him in bad position for misdirection plays. At 6′ 4″ and 277 pounds, Gary should be an immediate starter and has the potential to develop into a top tier defensive end.

Many are skeptical of the pick, but going into the draft, a lot of Michigan fans had predicted that Gary would be a top 10 pick. They were mostly ignored, but it turns out they were more or less correct. Another experimental freak project as a draft pick. You decide.


Darnell Savage, Jr. – S (Maryland)

Darnell Savage Jr. (4) breaks a tackle by Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Nico Collins (4) as he runs the ball after he makes an interception during the first half at Michigan Stadium. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Savage was an outstanding two-way high school player at Caravel Academy in Delaware, rushing for nearly 1,300 yards as a senior and making 54 tackles. Playing mostly as a back up at Maryland in his freshman season, Savage made 12 tackles in 10 games. He became a starter as a sophomore and had four passes defensed, 59 tackles and an interception. Savage gained recognition by the Big Ten conference as a junior making the all conference team after recording three interceptions and a team best eight broken up passes. He excelled again in his senior season, intercepting four passes and making 5.5 tackles for loss of yardage.

At 5′ 11″ and 198 pounds, savage has an athletic, strong build and has good quickness and sub 4.4 speed to cover both quick and big receivers. He displays good cover skills knowledge and has great ability to close in on passes, as displayed by his interception totals at Maryland. Savage could have issues covering tight ends if asked to be used in that role and needs to improve his open field tackling skills. The potential is there to be an NFL starter and could be perfect for covering slot receivers.

This pick was less controversial, as it well should have been. Savage, Jr. will potentially add much needed speed to the Packers secondary.

Ed Rooney

Just a guy with too much free time trying to help out.



  1. Ferris April 26, 2019

    That Maryland uniform looks like an Arena Football uniform. No wonder nobody wants to play at Maryland.

  2. Deepsky April 26, 2019

    Rumor is that the Ravens wanted Savage which is why the Packers jumped ahead of them.

    Nice to see that when the Packers stole scout Milt Henderson from the Ravens, he grabbed their draft prospect book.

  3. Kato April 26, 2019

    Saw this piece of brilliance from Rishard Matthews today.
    “Was straight until punk a** LaFleur came through,” Matthews said (via Allan Bell of 247Sports). “[LaFleur] told me I had to earn my starting spot back and that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    1. Howard April 26, 2019

      Matthews also had problems with Philbin when he was at Miami. Got suspended for a game or two and wanted to be traded.

  4. Kato April 26, 2019

    I wouldn’t be super concerned about Savage covering tight ends as that is usually a strong safety/slot corner responsibility in a zone blitz scheme like Pettines

  5. Mitch Anthony April 26, 2019

    I made a Ted joke in another thread after the first pick, maybe not totally fair. I’ll be objective and hopeful and wish Rashan Gary all the best as a Packer. I think he has high athletic traits on his resume, just wanted the production history to match. All that being said I was leaning toward Burns or Sweat for this pick. I view the pick as a little bit more of a project than an immediate impact. Some think this is overkill for edge, hell no. All the pressure in the world that the front can put on, makes it easier for the secondary. Just look at how the Bears improved after adding Mack.

    The safety pick was a good one. Apparently they felt they wanted him bad enough to give the two fourths up to move ahead. Savage is very likely immediate impact. Is he that much better than a Gardner-Johnson, Thornhill, or Adderley? Hope so, cause any of those three would have been available at 30, plus keeping the two extra picks in the fourth. I wanted those fourth round picks.

    Versatile O line pick with Jenkins in the second. This is where I was hoping a wide receiver would have been taken. I kinda sorta agreed with the Robster (high pick for WR, just not at 12) and at this spot for WR you still had available: AJ Brown, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Parris Campbell, Andy Isabella, and DK Metcalf. Jenkins will be contributing before the season is out.

    Sternberger in the third was a good pick. Definitely a need pick and hopefully a long term plug in at TE. No arguments with this one.

    Beyond this will be some camp bodies picked and some practice squad fodder, maybe one surprise.

    1. Cheese April 28, 2019

      “more of a project than an immediate impact”

      Exactly, just like the slew of guys they’ve done this with before. Projects don’t always end up making an impact either. Hopefully this one works out, but if it does that would only encourage the front office to gravitate towards more conversion projects. Then again, all of the failed projects of the past haven’t slowed them down any yet, so…

  6. Droolingted April 28, 2019

    I was a liitle disappointed with the Gary pick at first, but, after reading a liitle more on him, I gotta trust that Gutey and his guys know what they are getting in him. Kinda funny though that all the best players available at their picks were at positions of need. I don’t buy the best player available garbage!!

    I don’t know why people get pissy over no wr’s drafted. Davante is a beast. Geronimo is healthy, and, they drafted 3 last year, added Kumerow, have Lazard on practice squad, and drafted 3 receivers last year! There is only 1 ball! They didn’t need to draft a 10th string receiver!! They can get an undrafted one!! People listen to idiots like kiper too much!!

  7. Droolingted April 28, 2019

    Oops guess i need to proof read more often!!

  8. KILLER April 29, 2019

    Let’s boil it down to the essential elements. What happened in Rd 1 of the draft? The Packers had two first round picks and converted them into one first and a second while giving up two 4th rounders for the privilege of moving up in Rd 1 to get the 2nd Rd player.

    Look, I like Savage and he may turn out well. That said he was expected to go in Rd 2 or so. Juan Thornhill is an as good or better player and he was drafted late in Rd 2. (second to last Rd 2 pick actually) It could be that Savage would have been taken before the Packers pick at #30. Maybe, maybe not. Doesn’t matter. They would have still had the two 4ths and maybe would have drafted an actual 1st rounder!

    Gary may work out well but he is a hell of a risk. At not such a need location. One, I would have drafted to a different position. But, keeping with the Edge rusher position, even within that limitation, I would not have taken Gary. For instance, Brian Burns was faster and much more productive whereas Montez Sweat is much faster and much more productive and neither of them had injury concerns, both from major programs against top level competition.

    Gute the Bad math: one first rounder + one first rounder = one first rounder + one second rounder minus two fourth rounders….

    Picks at #12 who would have been better for the Packers: Montez Sweat*Brian Burns*Dexter Lawrence*Chris Lindstrom*Garrett Bradbury*Andre Dillard*Jerry Tillery

    Picks at #30 who would have been better for the Packers (and saved two 4th round picks): Kaleb McGary*Cody Ford*Jawaan Taylor*Deebo Samuel*Trayvon Mullen*Juan Thornhill*Dalton Risner*Irv Smith, Jr.*Parris Campbell*D.K. Metcalf*Andy Isabella*Chase Winovich*Khalen Saunders to name a few….