This is the next in a series of articles providing an in-depth analysis of each position group on the Green Bay Packers. Today we will analyze the defensive line. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here and click here for running backs.
The grades will be for each unit as a whole but we will provide analysis of each player, their strengths and weaknesses and a quick analysis of where they stand heading into the offseason.
The Packers rushing defense finished 26th in the NFL in yards allowed on the season and opponents averaged an unacceptable 5.0-yards per attempt which ranked 28th in the league.
Here are the grades for the Packers defensive line in 2022. The marks are based on a combination of expectations and performance.
Kenny Clark remains the Packers best defensive lineman. Clark was good this season but he was also inconsistent. He played well early, noticeably slumped in the middle of the season and then picked up his play again in December and January.
Clark was not elite against the run in 2022 and his play against the run fell off from previous seasons. His pass rush was the better part of his game.
The former first round pick out of UCLA finished the season with 53 total tackles including five tackles for loss, four sacks and 10 quarterback hits. He forced one fumble and recovered another.
Dean Lowry finished the season on the IR and his statistics dropped off this season. Lowry recorded 43 total tackles but had only one tackle for loss and 0.5 sacks after recording a career-high five sacks a year ago.
Lowry remains a hard working but very average run stopping defensive lineman. He’ll give you all he has and plays better against the run than at rushing the passer. He is only average against the run, however.
The former Northwestern star will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is unlikely to be back with the Packers in 2023.
The Packers signed Jarran Reed as a free agent during the last season. The former Chiefs player was signed to a one-year, prove-it deal. Reed struggled at times at the point of attack against the run.
He did provide occasional pressure against opposing quarterbacks especially later in the season. Reed finished the season with 2.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits. He made 52 total tackles including five tackles for loss and recovered two fumbles while forcing one.
Reed will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He is 30 years old now and will only likely be back in Green Bay next season if he’s willing to return for another one-year deal at team friendly terms.
First round pick Devonte Wyatt had a slow start to the season and needed time to adjust to life in the NFL. He barely saw the field for the first three quarters of the season but did get more playing time after Lowry was placed on IR for the final three games. He finished the year with 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and three quarterback hits.
Wyatt showed flashes of ability all season but couldn’t get on the field. He played 23 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in the 16 games he played. The Packers expect more from him next season now that he has a year of NFL play under his belt. His improvement will be important for the team heading into 2023.
T.J. Slaton started just two games in his second NFL season but played in all 17 as part of the defensive line rotation. He doesn’t provide much as a pass rusher and recorded no sacks and no quarterback hits. Slaton’s game is to occupy blockers along the line of scrimmage and to stuff the run. He finished the year with 31 total tackles including two tackles for loss and broke up two passes.
The 2021 5th round pick out of Florida will look to assume a larger role in the defensive line rotation next season after playing 32 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this season and playing on special teams.
The Packers drafted Jonathan Ford in the seventh round of this year’s draft. He was added to the roster primarily to contribute on special teams. He did not see the field at all this season and was inactive for all 17 games. Ford will fight for a roster spot again next season.
Chris Slayton had another solid preseason but spent the entire regular season on the practice squad. He signed a futures contract with the team after the season ended and should be back in training camp in July.
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