The Green Bay Packers focused most on their defense in the 2016 NFL Draft, investing four of their top five picks on that side of the ball. To have success in 2017, some of the Green Bay Packers sophomores must rise to the occasion.
Green Bay Packers Sophomores Must Step Up
A key to success for a struggling Packers defense is Fackrell getting off to a fast start. They are a team looking for a play-making pass rusher. Clay Matthews is in decline, and the Packers lost Julius Peppers and Datone Jones in free agency. Fackrell was drafted in the third round (pick 88) out of Utah State. Fackrell is 25 years old, which is surprising knowing that he is only going into his second year in the NFL. He was drafted for his all around ability at the outside linebacker position. He possesses great length and agility to rush the passer and cover tight ends over the middle if need be. Last year Fackrell proved that he has the skillset to become a player the Packers defense can lean on. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in a very limited amount of snaps last year. Hopefully, 2017 will be his breakout year.
Unlike Fackrell, Kenny Clark (21) is surprisingly young to be going into his second year in the NFL. Clark played 32 percent of the defensive snaps for the Packers in 2016, posting 21 tackles. That is a very low stat line for 333 snaps played. Clark seemed to step up in the run game late in the 2016 season, but needs to show a more consistent effort in 2017 to justify his first round pick status in Green Bay.
Dean Lowry played 15 percent of defensive snaps for the Packers in 2016, and was very productive in his limited opportunities. Lowry posted six solo tackles, two sacks, and one pass defensed. If these numbers were pro rated into a full season with 100% of snaps, Lowry would have close to 13 sacks. Lowry will get one on ones if he starts due to the attention placed on Nick Perry, Mike Daniels, and Clay Matthews. As long as he can win his one on ones, he will become a very solid player for this Packers team.
The only offensive player I will put on my list is Kyle Murphy. Murphy was a sixth round draft choice, but he may end up being the starter at right guard on the departed T.J. Lang. This would be a lot of pressure to put on a second year player. He will need to step up and fill Lang’s enormous shoes in order for the offensive line to be as good of a unit as it was last year.
Ted Thompson continues to build exclusively through the draft, so many of his players make the leap from year one to year two. Green Bay has a great coaching staff to get the most from all of their young players. They will need the Green Bay Packers sophomores to make the jump if they want a legitimate chance of bringing home another Lombardi Trophy in 2017.