GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers need to bolster their thin inside linebacker depth chart this offseason, but they won’t be re-signing one of their own.
Jake Ryan, the fourth-round pick in 2015, will sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars pending a physical, a source confirmed Saturday to PackersNews.com. Terms of his deal with the Jaguars were not immediately available. NFL Network was first to report Ryan agreeing to a deal with Jacksonville.
With Ryan heading elsewhere, all eight members of the Packers’ 2015 draft class officially are no longer with the team. Ryan was the last member in a draft class that included Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Ty Montgomery and Brett Hundley who retained any connection to the Packers.
Ryan tore his ACL in camp last August and missed the season. Before signing his deal, the Jaguars will want to know he’s on track to full recovery with his knee.
The Packers are thin at inside linebacker and especially could use one more in-the-box, run defender to pair with Blake Martinez in their base 3-4 defense. Ryan no longer had the coverage ability to play on passing downs in sub-package defenses, even before his knee injury. But he added some strength in the middle on early run downs.
Without Ryan, the Packers are down to three inside linebackers on their roster: Martinez, Oren Burks and James Crawford. They released Antonio Morrison, another linebacker who specialized in defending the run, earlier this month.
General manager Brian Gutekunst expressed earlier this offseason the hope second-year linebacker Oren Burks can take a jump this spring. A third-round pick last year, Burks played sparingly as a rookie but the former college safety has the athleticism to be used in coverage.
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Crawford, whom the Packers believe can also line up on the edge, played primarily on special teams last year. He had only one defensive snap.
The Packers could turn to the draft to add to their inside linebacker depth chart, perhaps as high as their No. 12 overall pick if LSU’s Devin White is available. Clay Matthews would also be an ideal addition to the group, but Gutekunst did not sound enthusiastic about the Packers’ chances of re-signing Matthews this past week.