Packers 2021 roster preview: Big third year for Rashan Gary

Green Bay Packers, Rashan GaryApc Packvsrams 0116211015djp
Green Bay Packers, Rashan GaryApc Packvsrams 0116211015djp /

When he was drafted, Rashan Gary was always going to need some time to develop. He got that in his rookie season with the Green Bay Packers, and it began to pay off down the stretch last year.

Gary, one of the Packers’ two first-round picks in 2019, now enters year number three with the chance to earn an even bigger role in Joe Barry’s defense.

Will this be a breakout season for Gary?

2020 stats

Gary played in 15 games with four starts, making five sacks and 11 quarterback hits.

2020 review

The Packers hoped to see Gary take a step forward in his second season, and that’s exactly what happened. According to Pro Football Reference, he improved in just about every category including sacks, QB hits, hurries, QB knockdowns, and pressures. His snap counts also jumped up considerably, showing the Packers trusted him to have a bigger role defensively.

Gary saved his best football for late in the year, another great sign.

Take the playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams as a perfect example. According to Pro Football Focus, in that win, Gary had seven total pressures and was the team’s highest-graded defensive player. This is exactly the type of performance the Packers will be hoping to see more of in 2021.

Year two was about development for Gary. Could he improve from his rookie season and take on a bigger role? The answer was yes.

Will he make the roster?

Yes, and don’t be surprised if he’s a starter ahead of Preston Smith this season.

What to expect in 2021

It could be a breakout year for Gary. The former first-round pick has improved his game a lot over the past year, and it sure can’t hurt having Za’Darius and Preston Smith on the roster to learn from.

Gary improved in his second season and should have been a starter more often. There’s no doubt that Gary works incredibly hard to improve his game and it paid off last year.

Za’Darius Smith had high praise for Gary earlier this month, saying that he is going “to be dominant for us this year”. He sees Gary every day at practice.

I’m not going to disagree with Z, and Gary’s performances late last season showed just how dominant he can be.

Offensive linemen need to be ready for Gary. A big year could be coming for the former first-round pick.