Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Packers 90-man Roster: Defensive Line

While the Green Bay Packers have created competition on the defensive line by drafting and signing several new players, there aren't enough roster spots for all of them. Most of the competition will be at defensive end, and these are the players from that are considered at that position:

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Guy, Lawrence 6-4 304 22 2
Hargrove, Anthony 6-3 282 28 8
Merling, Phillip 6-5 315 27 5
Neal, Mike 6-3 294 24 3
Wilson, C.J. 6-3 290 25 3
Worthy, Jerel 6-2 308 22 Rookie
Wynn, Jarius 6-3 285 25 4

I'm expecting three of these players will make the 53-man roster, so the competition should be fierce. Guy was stuck on injured reserve last season, and now (assuming he'll return healthy), he has to fight for a spot on  the 53-man roster, though he still may be eligible for the practice squad. Hargrove and Neal are staring down suspensions. While Hargrove may have no chance of changing the commissioner's mind over his participation in the pay-for-performance scheme while he was with the Saints, Neal might have his suspension lifted on appeal because his situation is similar to Andre Brown's. Based on what I read during the open OTAs, Worthy might be considered the top defensive end because of his ability as a pass rusher. Merling, Wilson, and Wynn are going to have to give the team a reason to keep them this preseason, but they all have potential.

Here are the defensive tackles (plus Jones who's listed as a "DL"):

Player Height Weight Age Experience
Jones, Johnny 6-4 310 23 1
Daniels, Mike 6-0 291 23 Rookie
Muir, Daniel 6-2 322 28 5
Pickett, Ryan 6-2 340 32 12
Raji, B.J. 6-2 337 25 4

Three-and-three: the Packers should keep three defensive ends and three defensive tackles. Jones spent 2011 on the practice squad, and that's his only hope of staying with the team again in 2012. Muir only played in 4 games in 2011 before the Colts released him, so he'll have to prove that he still belongs in the NFL, which I don't expect he'll be able to do. That could make it easy to keep Pickett, Raji, and 4th round pick Daniels (assuming his lingering shoulder injury doesn't land him on the I.R.).

The wild card is former Packer Johnny Jolly. Reading between the lines on a recent comment from team president Mark Murphy, who mentioned that he just wants Jolly to "lead a productive life" and notes that Jolly's been out of football for a couple years, it looks like the Packers aren't including Jolly into their plans. He might have some football left to play, but it seems they don't want to take back a player who could easily provide more headaches.

Overall competition level: high at defensive end, low at defensive tackle. Other than Pickett, Raji, and Worthy (Daniels will stay either on the active roster or I.R.), the other three positions could be made up of any combination of these players. These two positions will be ones to watch this preseason.


Stroh said...

The way I see it is the Packers will keep 6 DL to start the season and 7 after Neal/Hargrove return. Pickett, Raji and Worthy are locks. That leaves 3 spots to open the season. THat leaves Daniels, Merling, Guy, Wilson, Wynn, et al fighting for those 3 spots.

Daniels has the shoulder injury that may limit him and is a role player in sub packages. Those are limiting factors that could hurt his chances a little but if healthy he has an ability to be disruptive in that role.

Guy is a very intrigueing prospect that I identified in the draft process last year. He has prototypical size as a LDE and offers something in the pass rush too. I would keep his potential over that of Wynn and Wilson any day.

Merling was a highly talented player in his draft season. If his effort is ever an issue he is done w/ the Packers. But he like Guy has the prototypical size of a 34 LDE. Achilles tendon tears are similar to ACL tears in that they take awhile to get the power and explosiveness back after tearing. He is now 2 years removed and we’ll see if he has anything to offer in pass rush pretty quickly, but either way I would likely take him over Wilson and Wynn right now too.

We’ve seen alot of Wilson and Wynn and they simply have never impressed enough to warrant a roster spot. Both have been disappointments!

I see this as a depth chart I can live with.

LDE – Pickett (limited snaps), Guy, Merling
NT – Raji and Pickett
RDE – Worthy, Daniels, Neal (when he gets off suspension if he is suspended)

THat gives us a rotation in sub packages of Raji, Worthy, Daniels, Guy/Merling and Neal when he returns. I think Raji and Worthy might be the best bets to improve the interior pass rush, along with Neal, Daniels. Really any pass rush we get from Guy and Merling is a bonus, but not a necessity!

Brandon said...

I agree, except I think Hargrove could stick at RDE after he serves his suspension, but he'd probably have to beat out someone for a roster spot. I'm not a big believer in Guy, so maybe it will be Hargrove over Guy.

Also, I'm thinking Daniels will play on the left side as a Johnny Jolly type end, though that's just a guess until training camp opens and we see Daniels on the field.

Stroh said...

Daniels is really small for a LDE. The primary job of the LDE is to be a run stuffer, they don't have to have pass rush ability. Look at who we have played there... Jolly at 320+ and Pickett. Really big run stuffers. In the base D Daniels is unlikely to ever be on the field. I think they totally drafted him as a sub package player to excel at rushing the QB as a DT in nickel/dime packages. If he has to play in base he would be better at RDE. And Worthy would be better at LDE. If Neal gets healthy and back on the field I would have Worthy at LDE, Raji at NT and Neal at RDE. That would seem to make the most sense.