Moving on in my review of the Green Bay Packers 2023 undrafted rookie class is Illinois State interior defensive lineman Jason Lewan.
In this series, I have been diving into the current state of each UDFA’s respective position group and examining the stats you need to know from their college careers. I’ll also be taking a look at their measurements and then a pre-draft scouting report for added perspective.
If you’ve missed any of the other articles in this series, you can find them below.
Current state of the interior defensive line room
On the roster: Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, TJ Slaton, Colby Wooden, Karl Brooks, Jonathan Ford, Chris Slayton, Jason Lewan, and Antonio Moultrie
For the most part, the Packers seem pretty well set when it comes to the interior defensive line position. The big question is whether they keep five players on the 53-man roster or six. If they keep five, then we know who those players are going to be–the first five players listed above. If they choose to keep six as they did in 2022, then there is a roster spot up for grabs.
This unit has plenty of pass rush options, but how they plan to navigate early downs and obvious rushing situations remains to be seen. Slaton will, of course, be the primary run stuffer, and Kenny Clark will be plenty of action in those situations as well; however, it’s not as if he can play every run defense snap and every pass rush snap either. This is an area where Devonte Wyatt will have to improve, and although the rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks may be best as pass rushers early on, out of necessity, each could be utilized edge setters at defensive end on rushing downs.
If the Packers’ defense is going to bounce back in 2023, it begins with consistent play from this unit. Success against the run on early downs puts teams in third-and-longs and predictable passing situations. And as we know, the ability to generate pressure is always a good thing. It’s not a coincidence that when the defense was playing its best at the end of last season, so was the interior defensive line, both against the run and the pass.
Stats to know
Lewan played 1,185 career snaps at Illinois State, lining up primarily as a defensive end over the offensive tackle with 831 snaps there. He also played another 315 lined up in the B-gap. He was a rotational player, with 470 snaps in 2019 being the most he played in a season. The 2020 season was then cut short due to COVID, and in 2021, he played just 167 snaps due to injury. This past year, he was on the field for 369 snaps and recorded 13 pressures, including one sack, made 23 out of his 29 tackle attempts, and logged 17 stops. His run defense grade this past season from PFF of 73.4 ranked 25th among the draft-eligible candidates from the 2023 interior defensive line class.
6’6″ | 292 | RAS: 8.54
A tall and lean interior defender, Lewan posted a near-elite Relative Athletic Score, which included a 5.07-second 40-yard dash. Where he really shined in his athletic testing was in the vertical and broad jumps, recording individual RAS of over 8.0 at each. His scores across the board were solid, and at this stage of the draft process, it becomes a lot more challenging to find players with Relative Athletic Scores in the 9.0 range.
Pre-draft scouting report
“Lewan’s measurables, athletic testing and flashes on tape should earn him consideration from NFL teams. He’s a former tight end who has packed on close to 60 pounds at Illinois State, but he still displays good athleticism and movement. He’s tough enough to play in an odd front but needs to be more proactive to establish advantages. Stat scouting won’t offer enough insight into his pass rush potential, with power and athleticism both coming into play. Lewan might go undrafted, but he has the makeup to become an NFL backup.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com