With their first-round selection in the 2019 NFL draft, No. 12 overall, the Green Bay Packers selected Rashan Gary, linebacker, Michigan.
Despite spending freely on pass rushers during free agency, general manager Brian Gutekunst elected to continue to fortify his front seven by taking Gary. He's an interesting fit, being a bigger player that the Packers feel can play outside linebacker but provide a physical presence on the defensive line.
It was reported that Gary played through a shoulder injury last year at Michigan, which is perhaps why he had only 3.5 sacks last season for the Wolverines. He did have 5.5 sacks in 2017. Overall, Gary never produced the stats most would want out of a player with his physical attributes.
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times at the combine, even at his length.
- 9.5 career sacks in three years.
- 23 tackles for loss in his career.
- Recipient of the 2017 Richard Katcher Award, presented to Michigan's most outstanding defensive lineman or outside linebacker.
- Two-time All-Big Ten honoree (first team, coaches 2017-18; second team, media, 2017-18).
- Two-time All-Big Ten selection by the Associated Press (second team, 2017-18).
- Two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2017-18).
He won't have to make an immediate impact with the big acquisitions in free agency, so he can rotate in on at outside linebacker and the defensive line and be put in spots to succeed immediately as he develops.
General manager's take
Brian Gutekunst met the media late Thursday night and spoke about Gary's shoulder injury and questions about his game. Here are some highlights from his press conference:
"Obviously we go through a thorough medical evaluation on all these guys. That’s part of the process. I felt very comfortable long term that that issue was going to be resolved."
"I know there’s been a lot made about his production. I think production is just the way you look at it, right? If you watch the tape and you look at some of the different kind of stats, he affected the passer. He affected the game, and at times he wrecked it. Certainly he is a premier athlete. He has an exceptional motor on the field. Really since February, we really locked in on him. I thought this guy could really do some different things and add to our group."
"I disagree (that Gary didn't always put forth effort). I think that’s people who probably haven’t done their homework. If you watch the tape, this guy, he plays with his hair on fire. Again, I think a lot of things get floated to the media that carry longer than it should. I disagree with that."
Rashan Gary was available via conference call. Here are some highlights:
"I just can’t wait to work. I think I can do a lot of things and if they want me to play that position, I’m ready to do so. And my shoulder is 110 percent, I just can’t wait to strap back on the pads and get ready."
"My shoulder’s good. It’s not a torn labrum. (inaudible) a subluxation. But I did 26 reps at the combine and I’m ready to go and I’m ready to be great right now."
"Growing up and watching the game, I watched Julius Peppers and now Cam Jordan. Those are two guys I’ve watched and tried to take parts of their game and add it to mine."
"On a week-to-week basis, I played the six-tech. I sat over the tight end and controlled the C gap. My job was to knock back the tight end or the offensive tackle, depending on the strength of the defense. That was my job: To knock back the tight end and take away a running side. If I was on the right side, they’d run to the left, and vice-versa. That was my job week by week."
The scout says
Packers Midwest scout Joe Hueber spoke on the selection of Gary. Here are some highlights:
"He's got rare gifts. A guy that size who runs that speed and moves on his feet like that and he can really bend."
"He's a guy, he commanded a lot of attention at Michigan. Double teams. Triple teams. Taking on the tight end. And really, you saw that in some of his teammates they got freed up and they were able to get the production. It's not like he wasn't impacting the game though."
"He'll start in the outside linebacker room. He's a guy because of his size and speed and versatility that you'd hope you can move him around the front."
According to Pro Football Focus, he had a 9.9% run stop percentage on 162 snaps in run defense. That rated No. 7 overall in this draft class.
"It's funny, teams are — from an evaluation standpoint, they're not just personnel but coaches, there's teams that are production based and there are teams that are trait based in terms of what they look for in players. ... There's people that love him because of what he has from a height, weight, speed and what he can become. Now, he's got to get healthy and you've got to hope the production is going to follow the ability at some point in time. Some people love him." - NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
"Some believe that Gary played out of position and that he'd be better suited sliding inside to the three-technique spot and it is an area that I agree with. He battled a shoulder injury that forced him to miss three games in 2018. Gary is seen as a "boom or bust" type of prospect because the traits are evident, but they are inconsistent throughout his tape. The lapses in effort and disappearances throughout games are scary factors that remain the biggest questions about him entering the NFL. His personality and mental mistakes will scare some teams away, but the traits and flashes of brilliance are undeniable when his light switch is turned on and he's invested. When fully in-tune into the action, Gary looks like a sure-fire top-10 talent, but when the opposite end of the spectrum shows up, it brings up huge causes for concern." - Draft analyst Jordan Reid
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