Green Bay Packers Player Profile: Jake Ryan


There is no question, that the glaring weakness for the Green Bay Packers defense for the past couple of seasons has been the inside linebacker position. It has been so bad the past couple of years that the Packers were forced to move one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL, Clay Matthews, to inside linebacker to help improve the position.

In an attempt to get better at inside linebacker, the Packers decided to let go of A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, and Jamari Lattimore and move on. Hopefully this will improve the position. Of course, there was a prevailing theory that the Packers would look early in the draft to find their future at inside linebacker.

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It wasn’t until the fourth round the Packers finally drafted an inside linebacker. In fact, the Packers would only draft one inside linebacker throughout the entire draft.

The Packers selected Jake Ryan out of Michigan with their fourth-round pick in the draft. Immediately fans and others started to wonder if Ryan would be anointed the starter, opposite of Sam Barrington.

We won’t know the answer to that question until training camp starts and the preseason gets underway. Best-case scenario for Ryan, it would seem, is that he is going to start his career with the Packers as a backup and replace Matthews in certain situations and packages.

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The one question that fans and the Packers want to know: is Ryan the answer at inside linebacker or at least, will he play better than the players he is asked to replace?

Coming out of the draft, the scouting reports on Ryan made it sound like he was made for the Packers. He’s a player that spends a lot of time in the film room studying, a leader, aggressive, and always plays hard. That sounds like a player the Packers typically seek.

Other strengths of Ryan’s are that he is a good tackler, good at following his assignments, and is good at zone coverage. Those are all areas that the Packers really needed to improve with their inside linebackers and it seems as though, for now, Ryan is an improvement in that area.

However, there are areas that Ryan will need to improve. He does have a tendency to be over-aggressive and stays on his blocks too long. These are things that he can improve in training camp and in the preseason. There is no doubt that the Packers are already working on improving Ryan in these areas.

What can Packers fans expect from Ryan in his rookie season? Probably not much. We will see him on the field for some plays throughout the season and he could be brought along similar to current starter Barrington. Ryan will be inserted for some packages and plays and he may get more responsibility and more playing time depending on how well he plays throughout the season.

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  • If OTAs and minicamps proved anything, the Packers plan on having Matthews play at least half the time at inside linebacker, so Ryan isn’t counted on to contribute in a big way right away. That all could change based on how well Ryan plays in preseason and the early parts of the regular season.

    Only time will tell if Ryan will work for the Packers. For most rookies, nobody knows how they really will pan out with their careers in the NFL. Ryan is no different. He has the potential to be a good starting linebacker in the NFL. The commitment level is there for him to succeed; it just depends on if his talents and his ability will allow him to succeed.

    It won’t be surprising to see the Packers possibly bring Ryan along a bit slowly and allow him to develop. I don’t see the Packers automatically throwing him in the starting lineup and asking him to improve the defense right away in his rookie season. That’s too much responsibility for a player of Ryan’s caliber.

    There are too many questions about Ryan yet and areas he does need to improve if he wants to be a future starter in the NFL. Ryan has all the attributes to be an inside linebacker in the NFL, he just needs more practice and more work to better develop as a player.

    The sky is the limit for Ryan and if he can play to his potential, the Packers may have finally found their fixture at inside linebacker.

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