Packers young pass rushers shine with dominant performance vs. Bears

The Packers' young pass rushers dominated against the Bears.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

One of the main criticisms Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has received has been his obsession with drafting defensive players early in the draft. Since Gutekunst's first draft (2018), he has only drafted one offensive player in the first round (Jordan Love).

As Gutekunst loves drafting talented defensive players, fans expect these players and the defensive unit as a whole to be the highlight of the team.

This hasn't been the case in recent years, which could be due to the Packers having a Hall of Fame quarterback who can cover up mistakes by a young defense, but alas, the talent across the Packers defense should warrant better play on the field.

This narrative looked to have changed during the Packers' Week 1 victory over the Bears. The young group of pass rushers caused disruption against the Bears offensive line, bringing Justin Fields down a total of four times, which is harder than it sounds with the speed Fields possesses to get out of the pocket.

Packers 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt had a quiet rookie year, only having a total of 1.5 sacks in 16 games. Wyatt matched his rookie year stat total in his first game of 2023, making 1.5 sacks.

Wyatt jumped off the screen. It seemed every time the Fields dropped back to pass, Wyatt was disrupting the line and applying pressure to Fields. Although Wyatt may not have finished every play, his presence on the defensive line was paramount in the Packers defense being able to shut down the Bears offense.

If Wyatt can continue to develop as an interior pass rusher, he will be a problem for opposing teams. With an interior that already has a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Kenny Clark, Wyatt's development will take the stress off Clark and allow the entire line to shine.

Lukas Van Ness makes an impact in Packers debut

Wyatt was not the only young Packers pass rusher who shined in Week 1. Rookie first-round pick Lukas Van Ness, a.k.a. Hercules, brought down Justin Fields on only his ninth snap of the game.

Van Ness has all the tools to become one of the better young pass rushers in the NFL: Speed, strength, and agility.

This speed was on full display against the Bears when Van Ness chased down Fields as he was attempting to escape the pocket to the right. Van Ness not only caught up to Fields, he sacked him for a loss of seven yards.

Similarly to Wyatt's big day, Van Ness was second among all defensive rookies in pressures with five. Pressures may not always equate to sack production, but pressures are just as, if not more important than sacks. Having a multitude of young and talented pass rushers that can disrupt the opposing offense is a great problem for the Packers to find themselves in this season.

In the sixth round of the 2023 draft, Green Bay took Karl Brooks, not a player projected to make a huge impact on a defensive line already consisting of Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, and Lukas Van Ness. However, Brooks shined in his NFL debut.

With one sack and strong run defense, Brooks showed that in limited snaps, he can be a key role player on this stout defensive line in Green Bay.

The Packers defense sacked Justin Fields four times, with 3.5 of those coming from players on rookie contracts. The youth on defense is very promising.

With Rashan Gary playing limited snaps as he continues to recover from his ACL injury, the young bucks on defense will be a key part of the early success the Packers hope to have this season.

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