The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp later this month. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the team as they begin preparation for the 2023 season.

Today we will examine the defensive line. You can see our analysis of the quarterbacks here. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.

Packers Starting Defensive Linemen:

Kenny Clark

Kenny Clark remains the team’s best defensive lineman and without him the unit would fall off significantly. The former first-round pick out of UCLA is entering his eighth NFL season but won’t turn 28 until October.

Clark earned Pro Bowl honors twice in his career and combines the ability to stuff the run and pressure the quarterback from the interior line.

One thing Clark needs to improve is his consistency. There are parts of the season where he looks outstanding and parts where he almost disappears. If he can be more consistent, he’s capable of having an All-Pro season especially if he gets more support from his teammates.

Devonte Wyatt

Devonte Wyatt had a learning year as a rookie, and the former first-round pick out of Georgia didn’t see the field much until late in the 2022 campaign.

This year, with Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry no longer with the team, Wyatt is expected to step up and become a starter.

He showed flashes last year, penetrating the offensive line to stop the run and even recording 1.5 sacks in limited action.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry will be looking for much more from Wyatt in his second season with the team.

T.J. Slaton

T.J. Slaton enters his third NFL season ready to assume a starting role for the first time in his career. The former Florida star excels at clogging up the line and stopping the run. At 6’4” and 330 pounds, he’s a load to move for any offensive lineman.

Slaton played 32 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season but will likely nearly double that in 2023 if he stays healthy. His ability to stop the run will be a key factor if the team hopes to improve in that area.

Projected Backups for the Packers Defensive Line:

Colby Wooden

Brian Gutekunst added Colby Wooden in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Auburn alum can play different spots along the line and has the skills to add pass-rush depth to the defensive line. The biggest question is how long it will take him to be ready to be a strong part of the defensive rotation.

Karl Brooks

Karl Brooks is making a big jump from Bowling Green to the NFL. The sixth-round pick has the skill set to penetrate offensive lines but needs to learn how to succeed in the NFL against bigger, faster, and stronger competition. Expect he and Wooden to be part of the pass rush rotation.

Jonathan Ford

Jonathan Ford made the team last year as a seventh-round pick. He was expected to play mostly on special teams, but the big Auburn alum was not active for any games. Ford projects as a run stuffer if he becomes part of the rotation on defense.

Chris Slayton

Chris Slayton played well in the preseason and made the practice squad last year. He showed flashes of pass rush ability and penetrated opposing backfields. This may be his last chance to prove he is ready to make the 53-man roster.

Antonio Moultrie

Moultrie earned a contract with the Packers after rookie minicamp. The former University of Miami (Florida) star previously spent four years at Alabama-Birmingham. He is more of a run stuffer than pass rusher and is a long shot to make the roster.

Jason Lewan

Lewan signed as an undrafted free agent in May. He is also considered more of a run defender than a pass rusher. He recorded five sacks in 47 career games at Illinois State. He is considered a long shot to make the roster but could make the practice squad with a strong camp.

Three Key Questions for the Packers Defensive Line

Packers Defensive Line Preview Question One: Can the Run Defense Be Better?

The run defense has been an issue for years now and last season was no different. The Pack allowed 5.0-yards per carry which was 28th in the league and they were 26th in yards allowed per game.

The defense rightfully prioritizes stopping the pass, but the run defense can’t be as dreadful as it has been in recent years and that is a challenge for defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

The revamped defensive line must play their part in improving the run defense or this could be another long year in that department.

Question 2: Are Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton Ready to Start?

Wyatt has yet to start an NFL game while Slaton has two career starts. If these two young players are not ready to start, the lack of depth along the line could be a big problem.

Wyatt is a former first round pick who showed flashes late last season. Slaton will be more of a run-stuffer.

If the new duo plays well, the Packers could have an upgrade at this position. If not, the unit could regress.

Packers Defensive Line Question 3: How Big a Role Can the Rookies Play?

The Packers needed depth along the line, so Gutekunst selected Wooden and Brooks. Both have the potential to rush the passer but how soon will they be ready?

Nobody expects them to start right away but the Pack needs them to be part of the defensive line rotation. By the end of the season, the Packers hope Wooden and Brooks (or at least one of them) are ready for substantial action by the end of the season. If they aren’t, the lack of depth could pose a big problem for the defense and starters like Clark, T.J. Slaton and Wyatt could wear down by the end of the year.



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