In Day 10 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, here is a look at the players with the ability to be 3-4 outside linebackers.
Packers depth chart
The Packers essentially have no depth. After losing Erik Walden and Frank Zombo in free agency, Green Bay has just four players under contract: Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, 2012 first-round pick Nick Perry, 2012 undrafted rookie Dezman Moses and 2012 practice-squad addition Micah Johnson.
Thus, it’s practically a certainty that the Packers will draft at least one outside linebacker and sign another one or two in college free agency.
Packers draft outlook
There’s a lot of projection, since very few college teams run a 3-4 defense. Like with practically every other position, the Packers value size. Perry (6-foot-3) and Johnson (6-foot-2) weigh 265 pounds, Matthews is 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds and Moses is 6-foot-2 and 247 pounds; it’s why the coaches finally determined that Brad Jones (6-3, 243) was a better fit inside. For Green Bay, speed rushers need not apply. The focus for defensive coordinator Dom Capers and position coach Kevin Greene is power to defend the run and a power-first approach to rushing the passer.
Strength of draft class
This is not the best draft class, especially after the likes of Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones and Barkevious Mingo go off the board in the first 15-or-so picks. (BYU’s Ziggy Ansah is considered a 4-3 end only.) Georgia’s Cornelius Washington, who played defensive end in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme, and Southern Mississippi’s underrated and versatile Jamie Collins could be available in Round 2 and Ohio State’s John Simon might be an option in Round 3.
Bottom of first (round)
Jones’ draft stock dropped after his pro day but he still doesn’t figure to get down to Green Bay at No. 26. The Jets, according to a source, are considering him with the pick acquired in the Darrelle Revis trade. Florida State’s Bjoern Werner has also been on the slide and two scouts said he could be on available at 26. One, however, said he was no better than Perry. Besides, with Matthews locked up and the first-round investment in Perry, it’d be hard to imagine the Packers would go back to the well again.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.