The 2014 Green Bay Packers: Top Storylines at Each Position
By Dan Dahlke
Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (90). Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Will another pass rusher emerge?
When healthy, Clay Matthews has been the Packers’ consistent playmaker on defense. He’s still one of the best in the league in getting after the quarterback and making plays off the edge.
However, Matthews needs another pass rusher to emerge on this roster so offenses don’t repeatedly slide their pass protection his way.
Nick Perry has flashed some pass rush ability, but injuries have taken him out of the lineup far too often and have hindered his growth at the position.
Neal will get another chance to develop rushing from a two-point stance but will also split time at defensive line as an interior rusher.
Peppers may be the Packers’ answer here. He’s certainly athletic enough to do all of things at the position well, but he is not a long-term solution at age 34. The Packers need a young player to emerge at the position and be able to rotate in with Matthews and Peppers.
Maybe this is still Perry, but perhaps, this year’s fourth-round pick Carl Bradford or undrafted free agent Adrian Hubbard will find a home on the roster as situational pass rushers.
Second-year players Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer could also factor in. The depth at outside linebacker is certainly better than it was a year ago.
It should be one of the more intriguing positions to watch in camp this year.