The Packers defensive line is still a concern entering 2020.
For the most part, the Green Bay Packers have ignored the defensive line this offseason.
Maybe that’s the right move. Perhaps the development of young players on the roster is all this group needs to return to form in 2020. But it could’ve been a mistake.
Let’s review the defensive line following Green Bay’s offseason work.
Currently on the roster
The Packers, surprisingly, haven’t made many moves along the defensive line as of now. They signed former Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester after the draft.
But with Green Bay not making many changes along the defensive line, it suggests Brian Gutekunst is more confident in this group than many analysts and fans are.
Improved from 2019?
With almost the same group of players returning, it’s hard to say the Packers have significantly improved. The addition of Hester will help the run defense, but one has to wonder whether Gutekunst has done enough to improve the biggest weakness on this side of the ball. Not making many moves at either defensive tackle or inside linebacker could prove to be a mistake.
By far Green Bay’s best defensive tackle, the Packers need Clark to stay healthy and continue his role as an incredibly important starter in Mike Pettine’s defense. Clark is not only strong against the run but is also an excellent interior pass rusher, with 12 sacks over the past two seasons.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Clark ranked in the top five among defenders in two categories last season: pressures on third down and pressure rate on third down.
It’s hard not to be slightly concerned. Clark is a star and continues to improve each year but outside of signing Hester, the Packers have ignored a glaring need.
It’s almost as if Gutekunst has forgotten that this same defense gave up 285 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game just four months ago.
If Hester can make a difference, Keke makes a second-year jump, and they also get improvements from the other young defensive linemen, things will look better. But based on last year’s performance, they can’t count on it.