Packers: Five players who could have breakout seasons in 2020

Green Bay Packers, Stanford Samuels, Josh Jackson (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Stanford Samuels, Josh Jackson (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary
Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary /

2. Rashan Gary

In the 2019 draft, a lot of fans were upset when the Packers used their 12th overall pick to take Rashan Gary. The Packers had signed both Za’Darius and Preston Smith earlier in the offseason, then used the highest draft pick they had since 2009 to take another edge rusher.

Gary left the combine impressing a lot of scouts with his crazy athletic ability, but he was still thought to be a late first-round to early second-round pick. When the Packers took him with the 12th pick, many thought they had reached. Other draft pundits were confused by the pick because of his fit. He weighed 277 at the time of the draft and some thought he’d be playing defensive end in the Packers’ 3-4 defense until GM Brian Gutekunst said he’d be playing edge.

He also had a shoulder injury coming out of college, which was a red flag and probably scared a lot of teams off. It was later determined that he wouldn’t need surgery and would just have to wear a harness.

In his first year, some were quick to label him a bust. He played in all 16 games and managed just two sacks and 13 solo tackles. Granted, he didn’t get a whole lot of playing time behind the Smith brothers. He played in just 24 percent of the defensive snaps last year. You can’t expect a player, let alone a rookie, to produce big numbers while playing behind two of the best pass rushers in the league. But even he didn’t like the way he played last season.

This year, Gary has been tearing it up in training camp. He has consistently been beating offensive linemen in one-on-one drills, and impressively too. I think the way Pettine likes to move players like Za’Darius around on the line, that will allow Gary to get in a little more than he did last year. Being in this defense for a second year should help him find more time on the field as well.

Gary could very well break out this season and be a big part of this defense.