Defensive Line (9)
The defensive line has suddenly become a position of strength for the Packers, as Kenny Clark and Muhammad Wilkerson have now joined Mike Daniels as potential game changers. Even behind those three, they have the necessary depth to rotate everyone out and keep players fresh for the end of games.
Mike Daniels is the type of player who will get after you, whether you’re on his team or not. Green Bay has lacked even with Daniels on the team over the last couple of seasons. Regardless, he’ll play hard on every single possession.
- Energetic and passionate
- Extremely powerful bull-rusher
- Uses low leverage to beat offensive linemen
- Short for a defensive lineman
Scale (1-10 with 1 being no chance to make the roster and 10 being a complete lock)-10
There’s zero question about Daniels place on the roster. He’s one of the best overall players the Packers have.
Kenny Clark really came on during his second season, recording 4.5 sacks and 32 tackles. At still just 22 years of age, he has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
- Has a growing plethora of pass-rushing moves
- Low center of gravity
- High football I.Q.
- Battled an ankle injury last season (although he fought through it)
- Short arms
- Smaller defensive lineman
Clark’s position is just as certified as Daniels. The Packers’ coaching staff is expecting a huge jump from him this season, as he continues down the path of stardom.
Muhammad Wilkerson had a couple of down seasons with the New York Jets in 2016 and 2017 and hopes to bounce back. At his best, he’s a pass-rushing fiend who can provide instant pressure for this defense.
- When at his best, one of the better pass-rushers in NFL.
- Has experience under DC Mike Pettine
- Good run defender as well
- Didn’t play up to the hype the last couple of seasons
- Public falling out with Jets
His spot on this roster is basically locked in barring a complete meltdown by Wilkerson. The Packers need his pass rushing prowess, but crazier things have happened than him getting cut.
Dean Lowry isn’t a sexy pick to become the first defensive lineman in the rotation, but he fits in well with the three guys ahead of him. He does his job and is sound in his fundamentals.
- Sound fundamentally
- Had some flash plays last year which might show some potential
- Works his tail off on every play
- Limited athletically
- Short arms
- Lacks pass-rushing moves
At this point, there’s no reason to let Lowry go. He’s still on his rookie deal and has proven to be a solid, if not spectacular, player.
Montravius Adams basically had a redshirt first season with the Packers after being selected in the third round in 2017. He battled injury all throughout camp and that limited his appearances in the regular season. If he can pull it together, however, it could make this line even more special.
- Great first step off the snap.
- Extremely talented
- Injured most of first year
- Inconsistent motor when on the field
The only way Adams has any chance of getting cut (albeit, still a very small one) is if he suffers another serious injury. Regardless, he’ll stick because of his long-term potential.
James Looney has a slight nod over the other two rookies on this list simply because the Packers felt he was the one worthy of using a draft pick on. Even if it was a seventh-round pick. Looney still plays an important role, as he could give the Packers even more depth if he proves serviceable.
- Excels in the pass-rush category.
- Ran a 4.89 40-yard dash.
- Very durable
- Struggles versus the run
- Not very quick or explosive
- Under-sized as well
The Packers might keep more than five linemen considering they will likely play some 4-3 this year. In that case, Looney has an advantage over the next two.
Conor Sheehy hails from the University of Wisconsin so he might be well known to Badgers’ fans. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the hopes he can catch on to a roster spot and be fill-in along the defensive line.
- Good experience in college
- Great run defender.
- Doesn’t provide any pass rush.
- Lacks athleticism.
A three may be a bit high for Sheehy, but I’m admittedly a bit biased because he’s a former Badger. However, he will have to impress from the jump to earn a spot on this roster.
Tyler Lancaster is another undrafted rookie free agent who has a lot of experience playing at the college level. He’s not a big disruptor in the passing game, however, his role on the team would be to eat up space and blockers for those around him.
- Very strong and plays with leverage.
- Does a nice job of taking on additional blockers for his teammates.
- Zero pass rushing abilities
- Lacks a good first step and quickness off the line
Lancaster is more limited athletically than an already questionable athlete in Sheehy. He has a tough road ahead of him if he’s going to earn a spot on this roster.
Joey Mbu was signed to the Packers’ roster on June 11 as extra depth to their defensive line. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 as undrafted free agent out of Houston and appeared in two games that season. His only other appearances game in seven games last season for the Indianapolis Colts.
- Has very long arms.
- Great character on and off the field
- Plays hard on every down.
- Not a reliable pass rusher
- Doesn’t have the needed power
- Not always disciplined in his assignments
Defensive line is the Packers’ deepest position on the roster so Mbu has that working against him. He took a step forward with the Colts last season, but has too much of an uphill battle to make the final 53-man roster.
*Written by Brian Sampson