The 2022 NFL Draft is a little more than a week away and the Green Bay Packers are stocked with two picks in both the first and second rounds. Overall, GM Brian Gutekunst presently has four of the top 59 picks in this year’s draft.
This is the next in a series of articles looking at players the Packers may be interested in selecting at this year’s draft. The only players listed here are realistic possibilities for the Packers to pick at 22 and 28 or if they trade up or down slightly from that spot.
Today we will examine interior defensive linemen. The Packers have one stud there in Kenny Clark but the coaching staff has indicated that they need to get the Pro Bowler help going forward with somebody who can get penetration and raise the level of play of the line.
Clark is by far the best player the Packers have along the line. He is one of the few interior defensive linemen in the league who can both shut down the run and get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Dean Lowry is coming off a solid season that saw him a career-high five sacks but he is a very average player with a higher cap hit than his production justifies. The Packers signed Jarran Reed to a free agent deal to add depth to the line but he is here on a one-year deal and is likely a short-term contributor.
The Packers are hoping T.J. Slaton can take a bigger role in the rotation in 2022 and be a strong run stopper. Jack Heflin had a strong training camp and preseason but has yet to prove himself ready for a bigger role on defense in the NFL.
There are some real gems in this year’s draft but not a lot of depth. The Packers probably can’t get the top players at the position with the 22nd or 28th pick but may have to reach for the players who will be there when they pick late in the first round because they may not be there in the second round. Players on this list are likely to be available at that spot or be available if Gutekunst chooses to trade up 10 or fewer spots to grab that player.
So here is a list of possible defensive linemen the Packers may take in the first round. They are not listed in any particular order:
Jordan Davis, Georgia
Davis is big, strong and quick for his size. At 6’6” and 350-pounds, he had the ideal body type for a nose tackle. Davis was a dominant run stuffer in college and was also able to use the bull rush to his advantage. He has the ability to develop into a better pass rusher but will need coaching to increase his moves.
His ability to tie up one or two blockers on any play keeps linebackers free to make tackles. Adding Davis to the Packers lineup would improve the run defense instantly.
Stamina may be an issue for him as he was part of a rotation in college that kept him fresh. He is limited to playing nose tackle but may be the best nose tackle to come out of the draft in years.
If the Packers want to take Davis, they will have to trade up as he is set to go in the first half of the first round.
Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Wyatt is explosive off the ball and gets penetration on running plays consistently. He knows how to disengage from blockers and has a hunger for the ballcarrier.
The former Georgia star had an outstanding senior year that moved him from being a potential third or fourth-round pick into a possible late first or early second rounder.
Wyatt is strong but needs to improve his pass rushing technique if he hopes to make an impact in the NFL rushing the passer.
At 6’3” and 307, he’s not the biggest interior defensive lineman out there but Wyatt would immediately help the Packers run defense and if teamed with Clark, would change the dynamic of the Green Bay defensive line.
Logan Hall, Houston
Hall is a bit of a tweener. At 6’6” and 280 pounds, he’s a little undersized for a typical interior defensive lineman but a little large for an edge rusher. His is versatile and that’s something the Packers always look for.
Because of his speed, Hall can get good pressure on the quarterback. He can bull rush and line up at five-technique or head to the edge to create matchup problems.
Hall’s ability to penetrate makes him disruptive against the run and the pass. He reads plays well and adjusts to changes of direction.
Hall is an intriguing prospect and if the Packers can find the right place for him, he could be a valuable pickup in the later part of the first round.
DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Leal can play several positions along the defensive line including interior and edge. At 6’3” and 290 pounds he may be the best pass rusher among defensive linemen in this year’s draft.
The former Texas A&M star has great quickness off the snap which allows him to penetrate and stop running plays or pressure the quarterback. Because of his speed and ability to read plays, he can chase down ball carriers from behind the play and pursues well. Leal has several moves when rushing the passer which coaches love and he can play three-technique or five-technique.
His biggest challenge in the NFL if he plays inside is going up against bigger, stronger, NFL linemen on a play-by-play basis. He was also inconsistent at times, disappearing for stretches of several games and that needs to be improved.
Leal would add pass rush from the defensive line and would be a good complimentary piece with Clark if the Packers take him late in the first round. The pass rush could go to another level if Leal is the real deal at the next level.
Travis Jones, U Conn
Scouts are divided on Jones. He has good size at 6’4” and 326 pounds. Although he had 4.5 sacks with Connecticut in 2021, he needs to develop more pass rush moves because he relied on his bull rush which may not be as effective against bigger, stronger, NFL linemen.
Jones is at his best against the run where his upper-body strength and knee bend allow him to hold his ground against both single and double-team blocks.
One thing Jones needs to improve is the angles he takes when trying to make tackles. He’ll often penetrate well but has trouble closing because of the angles he takes.
While Connecticut is not a football powerhouse, he played very well at the Senior Bowl. He’d be an immediate upgrade to the run defense with some upside as a pass rusher.
Jones is more likely a second round pick than a first rounder, but he could definitely add a lot to the Green Bay defense.
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