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Packers 2022 Roster Preview: Living on the Edge – Acme Packing Company

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While Rashan Gary and Preston Smith provide a formidable duo upfront, depth remains an issue. 
The Green Bay Packers have a nice developmental story to tell at the outside linebacker position. In 2018, the position was held down by the animated corpses of Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, who would suffer what was ultimately a career-ending knee injury. In the offseason, Brian Gutekunst would temporarily solve this problem by signing Preston and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. However, it’s hard to survive in the NFL with free agent edge rushers, so in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Packers also selected Rashan Gary with the 12th overall pick.
The Gary pick has paid considerable dividends already and with Gary anchoring the position, the remaining questions are all about depth.
So, what can we expect from the Packer edge-setters this year?
How acquired: 2019 NFL draft (1st round, #12)
NFL experience: 4th year
2021 stats: 16 starts, 16 games, 9.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 47 tackles (27 solo).
In 2019, the Gary pick was controversial. While at Michigan, Gary failed to fill up the stat sheet, even while some scouts insisted he was getting the dirty work done. While he was unquestionably an elite athlete, having posted the 7th greatest RAS score of all time at the position, he was viewed as a project by nearly everyone.
Entering 2022, the project is complete. Gary was unquestionably one of the best pass rushers in football last year, ranking 4th in pressures behind only Myles Garrett, TJ Watt, and Nick Bosa. He was 3rd in hurries behind only Joey Bosa and Harold Landry. His 89.8 PFF grade also ranked 5th overall, bolstered by an elite 90.1 pass rush grade. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Gary was his relatively low sack total of 9.5; because pressures predict future sacks better than anything, there is a good chance that Gary will put up something more like the 15+ sacks of Bosa, Garrett, and Watt going forward.
Gary’s not perfect, and his aggressiveness can cause him to lose the edge with some regularity. The Packers’ poor rush defense is in large part his doing, and to truly take the next step, we’ll need to see more nuance and situational awareness from the phenom. Still, his floor right now is elite pass rusher, and as he’s just entering his age 25 season there is likely some projection still to be had. He is one of the scariest players in football.
How acquired: Originally signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Signed a 4-year, $52.5 million extension in 2022.
NFL experience: 8th year
2021 stats: 16 starts, 16 games, 9 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR, 38 tackles (25 solo).
Preston Smith enjoyed a nice resurgence after a disappointing 2020 season in which he only recorded 4 sacks, and it’s that inconsistency more than anything that allowed Green Bay to bring him back on a team-friendly deal. At his best, Smith is one of the most well-rounded outside linebackers in the league, excelling as a pass rusher, a run stopper, and when called upon to do so, even as a pass defender.
He is in many ways the perfect complement to Gary as he rarely loses contain and allows the Packers to plan for that particular weakness on Gary’s side to great effect. The issue with Smith is consistency, as he has established an “every other year” pattern with his production. Should that pattern continue, it would mean a step back for the Packer defense. Smith is also entering his age 30 season, raising the specter of age-related decline.
In a best-case scenario, Smith bucks the trend and contributes production similar to what he did last year, playing off of an improved defensive line and more help from the inside linebackers. On the negative end, if he puts up another 2018 or 2020 season, Joe Barry may need to go the blitzing well more than he would like.
How acquired: Signed as a UDFA out of Arkansas in 2019
NFL experience: 2nd year
2021 stats: 0 starts, 12 games, 0 sacks, 11 tackles (5 solo).
Perhaps no individual player represents the Packers lack of edge depth quite like Ramsey, who, as of this moment, finds himself one Preston Smith injury away from starting at left outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers despite a lack of elite production in college or the pros and a middling athletic profile.
Ramsey is a practice squad warrior and a tall, rangy player who managed to get on the field for a few games in 2020 after missing the first three games of the season with a groin injury. The injury bug struck Ramsey against before the 2021 season, as he was placed on IR with a leg injury and missed the entire season. Now healthy, he’ll get his chance to show why the organization likes him enough to have kept him around this long, but competition at the position has improved and since 2020 and his spot is anything but guaranteed.
How acquired: 2022 NFL draft (5nd round, #179)
NFL experience: Rookie
2021 stats: (South Carolina) 12 games, 4.5 sacks, 29 tackles (14 solo), 7 TFL
Kingsley Enagbare is proof that while the Green Bay Packers have a type, they’re occasionally willing to go against it when the situation dictates. The prototypical Packer, especially late in the draft, is an athletic phenom who may have struggled a bit with college production. Green Bay is consistently among the teams most frequently selecting players with high RAS scores, and they have a great deal of confidence in their ability to develop those players. Enagbare’s 6.26 RAS isn’t terrible, but considering his subpar agility grades, it’s a profile they usually shy away from.
But when it comes to production, Enagbare is an entirely different story. In terms of getting to the opposing quarterback in the 2021 college football season, almost no one was better. While Enagbare recorded only 4.5 sacks (And only 6 in 2020), he had the third highest PFF pass rushing grade behind only Aidan Hutchinson (2nd overall, Lions) and Nik Bonitto (64th overall, Broncos).
He was also 2nd in PFF’s Pass Rush Win Rate stat at 26%, just barely behind Bonitto and ahead of Hutchinson, Andre Carter, and George Karlaftis (30th overall, Kansas City).
2021 Pass Rush Win Rate (min. 250 pass rush attempts) via @PFF

Nik Bonitto 27.3%
Kingsley Enagbare 26.0%
Andre Carter II 25.9%
Aidan Hutchinson 25.4%
George Karlaftis 25.4%
Alex Wright 25.0%

…find players that consistently generate pressure! Seems simple enough I suppose
The question is whether Enagbare is athletic enough to produce similarly at the next level, and there is at least some evidence that he is. While his agility is poor, he posted an elite explosion grade. His first step and lower body power is exactly the reason he was able to cause so much trouble in college. His inability to turn pressure into splash plays was and is a real issue, but his technique is there and the first step is there. Don’t be surprised if they have something here.
How acquired: 2020 NFL draft (7th round, #242)
NFL experience: 3rd year
2021 stats: 1 start, 16 games, 1.5 sacks, 19 tackles (15 solo).
Garvin is, objectively speaking, a better prospect than Ramsey. In his final two seasons at Miami, he recorded 26 TFLs (including an incredible 17 as a sophomore) and ten sacks. When paired with a near-elite 8.99 RAS, that should have made him an ideal fit somewhere.
With pick 242 in the 2020 NFL Draft, the #Packers selected Jonathan Garvin, DE, Miami.

He posted a great #RAS with good size, good speed, elite explosiveness, at the DE position.
But college is a different animal from the pros, and some technique and leverage issues saw him fall all the way to the 7th round, where the Packers picked him at 242. Miami is a 4-3 base team, and Garvin has also had some trouble adjusting to the 3-4 edge position, as lackluster technique compounded the issue of having to learn new technique.
Still, there is some projection left in Garvin, who did improve in limited time from 2020 to 2021, and if nothing else, says all of the right things about learning the game when interviewed. The Packers are among the best at harnessing athleticism in their picks, and sometimes the light bulb goes off, but it’s not a great sign that they continue to prefer Ramsey, perhaps for special teams work.
How acquired: Signed off of the Tampa Bay practice squad prior to the 2021 season.
NFL experience: 3rd year
2021 stats: 0 games started, 6 games, 3 tackles (2 solo).
The man who replaced Za’Darius Smith when he was placed on IR, LaDarius Hamilton managed a few unremarkable defensive snaps when attrition sapped the Packers of their depth. The former UDFA from North Texas enjoyed a solid career in college registering a combined 15 sacks in his final two seasons, but limited athletic ability limits his upside at the next level.
Hamilton does bring a few tools to the table. He’s a smart player with an advanced move set, and he has some thump in the run game which will get him continued looks on this Packer team. Like Garvin, he also had his hand in the dirt in college, and he is still working out the kinks of that transition. As a situational player, a team could do worse.
How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020
NFL experience: 3rd year
2021 stats: 0 games started, 7 games, 1 sack, 12 tackles (7 solo).
Galeai is a speedy, lean edge rusher who can be productive as a situational player, but his lack of functional play strength makes him a liability against bigger, stronger tackles and some of the meatier tight ends. A one-trick pony who hasn’t come along as quickly as the team hoped, his most likely track to making the roster is through special teams, where he saw 60 snaps last season.
To be anything more than special teams fodder, Galeai either needs to develop additional strength, or develop better technique. There should have been evidence of at least one of these occurring by now.
How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022
NFL experience: Rookie
2021 stats: (Louisiana) 14 games, 10.5 sacks, 57 tackles (35 solo).
Manac was extremely productive in his final season at Louisiana, putting up 10.5 sacks and plenty of pressure, but any excitement should be tempered by his status as a sixth year JUCO transfer. Sometimes older players are able to dominate in small conferences, and there was some of that here.
Still, there is some skill to Manac’s game, as he sets the edge well, and given his lighter frame, he’s quite stout in the run game, and gets good leverage against pulling guards. Manac also features one of the more unusual RAS cards you will see, struggling in everything except straight line speed.
Chauncey Manac is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 3.63 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 958 out of 1503 DE from 1987 to 2022. #RAS #UDFA
The 40 isn’t the best predictor of edge success, but I do wonder if he had poor Pro Day preparation and if there may be some additional athletic ability that may emerge with proper coaching.
How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020
NFL experience: 3rd year
2021 stats: 0 games started, 6 games, 3 tackles (2 solo).
After a middling career at Mississippi State, Jones has made the rounds as an undrafted free agent and practice squad fodder, landing with the Falcons, Dolphins, and Titans at various times. The Packers are as good a place as any for him to give it another shot, but 7 career sacks in college and poor athletic testing will make it an uphill battle.


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