Evaluating Packers rookie Rashan Gary through the first six games of his career
The Green Bay Packers have had a terrific couple of drafts lately thanks to general manager Brian Gutekunst. He has acquired six starters in the last two drafts, a number that will only grow as the players develop.
However, 2019 first-round selection Rashan Gary has yet to truly make his presence felt with the Packers six games into his rookie season. He has displayed flashes of potential with his incredible physical abilities, but it hasn’t translated into consistently solid play on the field.
To be fair, Gary is competing against some great players at his position. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been incredible, spearheading the Packers’ defensive turnaround. The Smiths have combined for 13 sacks through six games, and neither has struggled to defend the run.
What’s a little more concerning is Gary’s inability to become the third outside pass-rusher in the rotation. Kyler Fackrell has been on the field more than Gary, which is not a good sign. Fackrell is a decent player, but there’s no way he is capable of starting on most teams without being viewed as a weakness. That’s not a good sign of where Gary is in his development.
Looking purely at the numbers, the former Michigan Wolverine has been less than impressive. Gary has played during 23% of the Packers’ defensive snaps and has only eight total tackles and one sack. His one sack came on a play where he was virtually unblocked, so there was nothing eye-popping about that.
Another problem is his contribution (or lack thereof) in other areas. Most depth linebackers will play plenty of special teams, but Gary hasn’t even been able to make an impact in that respect. He’s played a measly 7% of special teams snaps, which simply doesn’t provide any value.
On the bright side, Gary has a couple of things going for him. He’s been healthy for all six games, which was a huge concern of his coming out of college. He also has the frame to pack on a little bit more weight, which should help him see the field.
The burst and explosiveness that many raved about Gary during the draft process have looked as advertised, he just isn’t finishing rushes with an actual move. If he can rely less on his pure athleticism and incorporate more use of proper technique into his game, he’ll be outplaying Kyler Fackrell in no time.
Technique is easy to coach, so there’s no need for concern. The Packers have the resources to be patient with Rashan Gary, which is exactly what will happen. Gary has shown promise, and it’ll just take more time for the promise to be realized.