Packers: Position group rankings ahead of training camp

Green Bay Packers, Mike Daniels (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Mike Daniels (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
5 of 12

8. Outside linebacker

Starters: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry

In the mix: Vince Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, Reggie Gilbert, Chris Odom, Kendall Donnerson, Naashon Hughes

If Clay Matthews and Nick Perry can stay healthy, the Packers have a dynamic pair of outside linebackers. But that’s been the problem, the two have not yet played a full 16-game schedule together.

Reggie Gilbert was a bright spot on the Packers defense in the final two games of the 2017 season. Vince Biegel was the heart of a top-ranking Wisconsin defense in college but had his rookie year derailed by injury. Kyler Fackrell has had a few bright spots but has yet to put it all together. Chris Odom got a redshirt year after being picked up after final cuts.

The strength of the defensive line could improve the Packers’ outside linebackers. A solid rotation of inside rushers can lessen double teams on the outside and free up Matthews and Perry. But they have to stay healthy.

I’m curious to see how Kendall Donnerson’s testing numbers translate to the NFL. If Donnerson played at a big-time school, his pre-draft numbers (4.45 40-yard dash, 10’11 broad jump, 4.37 20-yard shuttle) would have gotten him drafted sooner than the seventh round.

A full offseason should help Biegel. Missing his rookie year training camp never allowed Biegel to properly prepare for his first season. If Gilbert can build off his late-season performance, he could be the next undrafted success story for the Packers.

Injuries almost seem inevitable with this group. With no proven veteran experience behind Matthews and Perry, injuries could really hurt the pass rush. Biegel, Gilbert or Fackrell will have to step up regardless of injuries. A solid rotation will keep Matthews and Perry fresh and lessen the chance of injury.