The Green Bay Packers have many areas of need heading into the offseason but one of the biggest remains edge rusher.

Getting pressure off the edge is a vital factor for NFL defenses. When given enough time to throw, even average quarterbacks can be very effective these days especially since the rules are designed to favor the offense. But as we head into the offseason, the Packers are in need of depth and reinforcements in this area.

A good pass rush can often cover for an average secondary and the more pressure a defense gets the more effective the overall unit tends to be. A strong pass rush leads to more turnovers, more penalties against the offense and more disruptions to their attempts to create long drives and score points.

Expect GM Brian Gutekunst to address the edge rusher position relatively early in the draft and by signing some low-cost free agents.

Here is where the Packers stand right now at the position and why they have a need in this area:

Rashan Gary

The Packers top pass rusher last season was Rashan Gary. The former first round pick out of Michigan has improved each year he’s been in the league and got off to an outstanding start last season. He had five sacks in the first four games of the season and was getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Gary finished the season with six sacks and 12 quarterback hits in just nine games. He also forced a fumble, recovered one and had seven tackles for loss. Gary’s play against the run was far from elite but he continued to make progress at keeping contain. His run defense grade was higher this year than it had been earlier in his career.

Unfortunately, Gary suffered a season-ending knee injury during the Packers Week 9 game in Detroit. That caused him to miss the rest of the 2022 season. His rehab will also likely continue into the early part of the 2023 campaign. Like other players who have suffered similar injuries in the past, it may also take Gary more time to get back to his pre-injury form after he is first able to return to the lineup.

The injury to Gary reinforces the need for the Packers to add talent and depth at this position.

Preston Smith

Preston Smith led the team in sacks with 8.5 and finished with 59 total tackles including 20 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss. He also forced a fumble and broke up a pass.

Smith should be back next season but he’s better suited to being the second-best pass rusher on a team than the first. He’s also 30 and even if he has a year or two left before his play starts to slow down, the Packers should be thinking about drafting and developing his successor.

Kingsley Enagbare

Rookie Kingsley Enagbare made some good strides as a rookie and was among the leading first-year players in pass rush win rate according to Pro Football Focus. He started seven games after Gary was injured and gradually improved his play as the season went on.

The South Carolina alum made 31 total tackles and three sacks and broke up three passes. He was also credited with eight quarterback hits and five tackles for loss.

At this stage in his career, Enagbare is best suited to be a third pass rusher off the edge on a team who should be a part of the team’s rotation but not be one of the team’s starter.


Beyond the three players listed above, there are no proven players on the roster. Jonathan Garvin saw action mostly on special teams and didn’t provide much pass rush when he was inserted into the defense. Garvin didn’t record a sack in 14 games this season.

Justin Hollins flashed some pass rush ability after being signed mid-season but he is an unrestricted free agent unless Gutekunst re-signs him over the offseason. Hollins recorded 2.5 sacks in six games with the Packers and provided some pressure when he was part of the rotation. The Packers should try to bring him back but also need to upgrade this crucial position.

Gutekunst has added an edge rusher in the draft nearly every year since becoming the Packers GM and has also added free agents at this position both during the offseason and during the season. It is critical that the Packers add talent and depth to this position this offseason if the defense hopes to improve in 2023. This is one of the team’s bigger needs right now pending any potential trades or moves made before the draft in April.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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