Packers 2020 post-draft position review: Edge rushers

Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Packers’ pass rush should be strong again in 2020.

Signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith proved to be a genius decision by Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.

The Packers defense desperately needed more production from the edge rushers, and the Smiths provided that in 2019, combining for 25.5 sacks and 60 quarterback hits.

The pass rush will be a strength of the defense again this year.

Currently on the roster

Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Tim Williams, Jonathan Garvin, Randy Ramsey, Tipa Galeai, Greg Roberts, Delontae Scott

Offseason moves

It was a quiet offseason at edge rusher, which was to be expected after the Smiths’ production last year and after using a first-round pick on Rashan Gary.

The Packers did lose some depth as Kyler Fackrell, who made 10.5 sacks in 2018, signed with the New York Giants. Green Bay drafted Jonathan Garvin, who will compete for a spot on the roster over the summer.

Improved from 2019?


Of course, a breakout year for Rashan Gary would change this, or if one of the rookie edge rushers makes an impact. But right now, it looks as if the Packers have stayed the same at edge rusher, or got slightly worse without Fackrell.

While not a star edge rusher, Fackrell provided some important depth behind the starters. The Packers will need someone to step into that role in 2020.

Key player

Za’Darius Smith.

Smith made a huge impact last season, both for his pass-rushing ability and also his leadership. He made a team-best 13.5 sacks and 37 quarterback hits while ranking eighth in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric for defensive ends and outside linebackers. Smith also made his first Pro Bowl in 2019.

Position outlook

If the Smiths stay healthy, the Packers will be able to generate pressure and get sacks.

After selecting Gary 12th-overall in 2019, he’ll need to step up in his second season, taking over many of the snaps that went to Fackrell last season.

The depth behind the top three is uncertain. Tim Williams could be the fourth option at edge rusher, although rookie Jonathan Garvin will provide depth.

Overall, the Packers’ pass rush should be a strength on defense again in 2020.