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Rashan Gary Needs to Cut Loose Come September

Following three years of football at the University of Michigan, Rashan Gary was chosen by Green Bay GM Brian Gutekunst as the twelfth overall draft pick in early 2019. Let’s take a moment to put that in proper perspective.

Over the Packers’ past ten drafts, they’ve only had a top-25 (or higher) pick four times: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was #21 in 2014 (ouch); Jaire Alexander was #18 in 2018; Darnell Savage was #21 in 2019; and Gary was #12 – also in 2019. Gary, therefore, has been the Packers’ highest draft pick in the last decade. He’s the highest pick since 2009, when B.J Raji was selected at #9. Going back further, since 1993 the Packers have drafted only 2 players ninth overall or better: A.J. Hawk, chosen at #5 in 2006, and Raji, #9 in 2009. Green Bay’s position in the draft in 2019 is a once-in-a-decade occurrence.

2019 was Gutey’s second year as the team’s head drafter – it was a rare opportunity! The GM went with a three-year collegian out of the U of Michigan, where he played defensive end, and weighed in at 289 pounds. While at Michigan he was named All-Big Ten in both his second and third seasons. He also twice made the conference’s All-Academic list – even though he was mocked in college for recording a low Wonderlic score. He is said to have dyslexia.

I don’t recall that he was picked by many forecasters to go that early, though it was not a major surprise: Gary was a big man, a special athlete (dash time of 4.58 – he weighed 277 at that time), and he excelled in a Top-5 conference. Gary repeated his conference honor in his final year even though he played in only nine of 13 games; he was hampered by an injured shoulder for much of the season, and (according to Wikipedia) he chose to sit out the Peach Bowl game to prepare for the draft.

I believe Gutekunst always contemplated that Gary would be used an outside linebacker/edge rusher, though there was some thought given to inserting him, at least on occasion, into the defensive line. In part due to the likelihood he would switch positions in the pros, he’s been viewed as a developmental project, and wasn’t expected to see a lot of action as a rookie.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary (52) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the third quarter during their NFL divisional playoff game Saturday, January 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Gary has indeed been brought along deliberately by the Packers. As a rookie he was in on 244 of the defensive snaps (23.5%); last season that was upped to 456 (44%). In 2019, he recorded 21 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 3 QB hits; in 2020 he 35 tackles, 5 TFLs, 5 sacks, and 11 QB hits.

I suspect the Packers are fine with the progress he has shown to date. But this is now Year 3 – the year that Rashan will either justify the GMs confidence in him or be viewed as a disappointment in light of his status as a top-12 draft pick.

In 2020 Rashan demonstrated that he has both the quickness and the power to be an effective pass rusher. On a number of occasions he simply overpowered his blocker. Whether he can almost double his pass rush stats remains to be seen, though with increased playing time, I would think 10 sacks, 8 TFLs, and 15 QB hits would be reasonable goals for him this season. And as I’ve previously reported, he had the top Pro Football Focus grade at pass coverage out of 108 comparators. He’s versatile.

He appears to be dedicated, coachable, and exceedingly quiet – has he ever made any appearances before the press? Prior to last season, Coach LaFleur indicated that Gary returned to camp in “phenomenal” shape, adding: “One thing you can never question is how Rashan goes after it, his work ethic.”

Rashan won’t be 24 years old until December, which is about the age Jaire Alexander and Davante Adams broke loose with their first big seasons. He’s my pick as the Pack’s next breakout performer.

Rashan Gary - Preseason 2019

Aug 8, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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22 Comments

  1. Ferris April 4, 2021

    It could be worse. That purple team took some fool named Ponder at 12 in 2011. Oops. His wife is hot though, so he has that.

    Reply
    1. PF4L April 4, 2021

      Yep….with a bonus…she brings home a nice paycheck.
      .
      She can keep having babies, and he’ll keep changing diapers.
      Yes Sir…he was a Minn. viking.

      Reply
      1. Ferris April 5, 2021

        She used to know as Samantha Steele…that has a nice “adult”movie ring.

        Reply
        1. Ferris April 5, 2021

          to be known…geez

          Reply
    2. Steve April 4, 2021

      Minnesota isn’t being critized for not taking a receiver early either. A great selection for them was Laquan Treadwell with pick # 23 in 2016. While The Packers have been at work grooming their own receivers, others have suffered in training them due to the fact there was no real training camp, or any preseason games in which to do so. There are no guarantees that such highly picked players, are going to be a success or a dismal failure. J’Mon Moore was highest in our selections of wide receivers in 2018.
      While the rest of our receivers are still here, ironically he is long gone. Gutekunst has done well comparitively and has also been ready when it becomes necessary to find replacements due to free agency, often on our own roster, or practice squads. If we had needed to replace Preston Smith this season, we had Gary here and ready for his opportunity. The same holds true for our receivers. We didn’t simply lose the NFC Championship this year or last because we were lacking another 1st. round receiver.

      Reply
      1. PF4L April 5, 2021

        Out of all the vikings QB’s that cost them a 1st round pick, i’ll bet that Ponder is the best diaper changer of all of them
        Seriously, i would put money on that.
        .
        Mr. Mom Ponder takes a backseat….to no one.

        Reply
  2. PF4L April 4, 2021

    Rashan Gary request #52
    .
    😑😑😑 The body’s not even cold yet lol

    — Clay Matthews III (@ClayMatthews52) April 29, 2019
    ************************************

    I just discovered that Gary’s wonderlic test score was 9.
    It doesn’t change my opinions, or any of my past post about him.
    But damn…..that is low.
    ************************

    The Gary pick at 12 is somehow justified by some, chastised by others, or indifferent from the rest.
    The Gary pick and the Jordan Love trade up were both bold moves.
    .
    I’ll declare that one or both of those moves, ultimately decides his fate as a General Manager in the NFL.
    That statement should/will be much better understood in a year or two from now.
    Barring any foreseen miracles, like a Super Bowl victory this coming season.

    Reply
    1. Ferris April 5, 2021

      Vince Young had a 6. I remember that. And because way back when I really did not like FSU. Fat Ass Janikowski had a 9.

      Reply
      1. PF4L April 5, 2021

        Some players are so bad, they give them a 2nd chance at the test.
        I’m pretty sure on the 2nd go around…there are pre test preparations goin on.

        Plenty of guys have had outstanding careers in the NFL that scored low.

        But back in the period of trouble makers and outlaws in the NFL Burfict, Talib, Harrison, Pacman Jones etc.
        Just for kicks i’d try to find their wonderlic score, and not every instance, but it seemed a general common denominator was a low score.

        Today, these guys are prepped, sometimes for months coming into the combine, including the test.

        Lets be honest, some of these guys get floated right through high school and college, and come out dumb as a box of rocks sometimes.
        Case in point: Gary Ellerson…NFL Running back and UWM student of all places. Got a job at WSSP sports radio in 2005, he was 41 years old…couldn’t read worth a damn…it was cringeful to listen to him read something on the air. Thankfully they got him a tutor, and he’s still there to this day. But…..it was obvious UWM didn’t give a damn.

        Fair or not, the NFL and it’s teams want it, and the NFLPA hasn’t been able to stop it.

        Reply
        1. Stiggy April 8, 2021

          Wonderlic scores dont matter for pass rushers. Physical traits and work ethic are what matters most. I also read that Gary is dyslexic or something to that effect. Im not some Gary fan boy…but even listening to the guy talk… he doesnt sound any smarter or dumber than most NFL players.

          ****

          Also you are correct…top tier recruits basically get passed through all institutions…even the beloved Badgers (despite what badgers fans may pretend). I was having drinks with John Clay’s tutor one time..and the guy basically said he couldn’t even read…yet here he was…admitted to a competitive state university.

          That is certainly a mockery to those institutions…however…these blue chip sure fire NFL players really shouldnt be forced to play in College….but that is an NFL rule because they dont want to pay for their own minor league system. They would rather have the colleges and their boosters do all the work and spend the time and money in teaching these guys football and developing their bodies.

          Reply
          1. Howard April 8, 2021

            James Jones had a wonderlic score of 9. If I remember correctly Jones said he didn’t take the test seriously. James Jones did well in pro football, and outside football.

            Reply
          2. PF4L April 8, 2021

            I’ve heard that before, where a player says he didn’t take it seriously.

            But then again…i’m guessing, there might be a reason why they didn’t take it seriously.

            Reply
          3. PF4L April 8, 2021

            Jeff Gladney Wonderlic – 16

            That’s the least of that boys problems

            He didn’t pick the thug life, the thug life picked him.

            Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.

            Bitch be cheatin dawg!!

            Reply
  3. PF4L April 4, 2021

    I guess i knew Gary’s wonderlic score, but completely forgot about it.
    .
    PF4L May 14, 2019
    Well, when we actually see that he understands the playbook, and he’s assignment sure…then, no worries.

    Jeff Janis apparently scored a 30 or 32, so….go figure. That’s why we have to see them play and do it on the field before we crown them. Regardless of their wonderlic score, or their combine metrics, etc. None of that matters, if they can’t cut it in the NFL.
    **************************
    PF4L May 14, 2019
    “Rashan’s Gary’s Mommy (and President of RG Sports Agency) called into a sports talk show and tells the host “stop bashing my baby”.

    Yea :)….i like where this is going.

    Reply
  4. Mick April 5, 2021

    On another note; I like to give credit, where credit is due. The last 8 articles on this site were written by Rob. Kudos Rob! Word has it that Rodgers “blew it out of the water hosting “Jeopardy” Producers were blown away by his performance;;;;;;;;;;OH OH! Looks like Rodgers has better cards in his deck, than Gute and Murphy has.

    Reply
    1. PF4L April 5, 2021

      Cough
      :)

      Reply
      1. Mick April 5, 2021

        My sentiments, exactly! M. Florio and C. Simms are having a field day with the Jeopardy- Rodgers saga. Goes to show, not much for them to talk about until the draft.

        Reply
        1. PF4L April 5, 2021

          PF4L April 1, 2021
          Observation….

          Since March 18th, there have been 7 articles submitted.
          Kudos to Rob who wrote 6 of them,
          Not sure if your compensated, but you damn well should be.
          *******************
          Cough :)

          Reply
  5. PF4L April 5, 2021

    PF4L

    April 05, 2021 at 02:24 pm

    I keeping reading the headlines of these articles and even occasionally peeking at it’s contents and comments.

    I keep drawing the same conclusion.

    For a team that went 26-6 the last 2 seasons, there seems to be a lot more questions than answers.

    Just sayin.

    Reply
  6. PF4L April 6, 2021

    Tired of the NFL silly season? Need a break from the mock draft “experts”
    .
    Nothing beats the excitement of a SB, especially when your team is in it.
    .
    But the 85th playing of the Masters in Augusta Georgia takes a back seat to no one.
    .
    Special good luck to International HOF legend Bernhard Langer.
    He may not make the cut, but he finished 29th last year.
    That isn’t that special, except when you consider he’s 63 years old
    competing against the worlds best as he tee’s it up at the Masters
    for the 37th time.
    .
    Mad respect.

    Reply
  7. PF4L April 9, 2021

    21 comments and 12 are mine.

    Now i know how Aaron Rodgers has felt the last 10 years.

    Reply
  8. Brett Faver April 15, 2021

    I though Total TMZ Packers and friends said he was a guaranteed bust? Oops, wrong again.

    Reply

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