Packers Depth Chart: Linebackers

Just over a week from training camp and we are almost through the Packers roster. We have covered six different position groups, and we get to one that has a lot of fans polarized: linebackers. With so many questions in the middle of that position, we have a lot to look at. So let’s not waste any more time.

Previous posts:
Full Roster
Offensive Backfield
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Offensive Line
Defensive Line


6’3” 215 lbs. Age 30 (8th Season)

Drafted in the 1st Round (26th Overall) in 2009 from USC

Strengths: Clay is a master pass rusher with every move imaginable. He can turn the corner and beat tackles with speed but can also drive a left tackle into his QB. He also has a good swim move and seems to live in the backfield when lined up outside. He also is a sound run defender and an underrated coverage guy with the speed to cover running backs in the flat. But his biggest strength is his passion and effort. He is a true high motor guy who is flying everywhere during the play.

Weaknesses: While he is high motor, his flying everywhere can sometimes be a detriment as he has gotten the reputation of losing backside contain often and sometimes getting caught up in the wash of the trench play. He also doesn’t have the smoothest hips in coverage and can get beat by the more agile running backs.


Bold Predictions: Jayrone Elliott will make the Pro Bowl

Jayrone Elliott enters his third season with the chance to make a major impact on the Green Bay Packers defense. The former Toledo star made the roster as a rookie long-shot after going undrafted. He had another great preseason last year to solidify his spot on the roster. He will have a chance to work into the pass rushing rotation with Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry.

See my list of breakout players for next season:

Elliott made huge strides in each of his first two seasons. Last season, Elliott had a terrific game against the Seahawks and showed flashes throughout the season, but was inconsistent overall. However, I believe his pass rush ability will allow Peppers and Clay to play in more versatile roles on 3rd down, and Elliott will get the opportunity to make impact plays. Jayrone has shown great instinct and work ethic, and I believe he will continue to develop his pass rush moves to take advantage of his physical abilities.

My prediction is that Elliott will get between 10-12 sacks, and make 3-4 impact plays (forced fumbles and interceptions). I get a little leeway because it’s so much easier for players to make Pro Bowls in an era where the league sometimes has to take their 3rd or 4th option. However, I feel Jayrone Elliott is going to help the Packers defense in transitioning from a good unit into a great one. 

Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig

Green Bay Packers Still Have a Formidable Force in Peppers

The Green Bay Packers have been widely regarded as a draft-and-develop team under the managing of Ted Thompson. Prior to last season, the Packers strayed from that mentality when they signed veteran free agent Julius Peppers to a three-contract.

The move was a curious one to say the least. Green Bay has made a point to not spend large amounts of money on other teams’ free agents, so why should the team break that philosophy to sign a 34-year-old defensive end who has been criticized for occasionally taking plays off?

But over the course of the season, the signing of Julius Peppers proved to be a very important move for the Packers. Peppers became a leader on the Green Bay defense (he was even voted to be the team’s postseason defensive captain) and had one of the most solid defensive performances that the Packers have seen in recent years.

Heading into the 2015 season, Peppers can still be a formidable player for the Packers’ defensive unit. Motivated by the possibility of winning a championship before retiring, Peppers has found new life in Green Bay that make him one of the Packers’ most important players heading into next season.

The biggest concern when Peppers joined the team was his age. At age 35, he is easily the oldest player on the Packers’ roster. But his age did not factor into his performance last year, and it will likely not impact him in 2015 either.



The Green Bay Packers two big needs that were identified by the masses going into the draft were cornerback and inside linebacker.  Would a tight end have been a nice luxury item? Sure. Would it have been good to get a long term replacement for Julius Peppers? Absolutely.  Would it have been worthwhile to draft a pass-catching back to impact 3rd downs and eventually replace James Starks? Why the hell not.  But corner and linebacker were the big spots.

The two positions became issues for two different reasons.  The cornerback position might have been the strength of the team (besides Aaron Rodgers) in 2014.  The team was legitimately 5 deep at the position: Sam Shileds, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House were all capable starters.  House and Williams have since departed on high-dollar free agent deals.  Normally that would be fine.  You’d tell me that that leaves the Packers with 3 starting caliber cornerbacks when some teams only have one and that they drafted a developmental player in the 6th round last year (Demetri Goodson).

Yes, that wouldn’t be an issue normally, but there’s an element of the unknown.  The Packers really only played 3 cornerbacks on the outside.  Sam Shields and Davon House played outside exclusively, and Tramon Williams was really the only corner over the last two seasons that the Packers have trusted to play any and all of the corner spots.


5 Guys That Have to be Good: #1 – Terrell Manning

Training camp opens on July 26.  To prep for that I’m going to take a look at 5 players that “have to be good”.  The reasons can be varying but because of whatever circumstance it is either vitally important to the 2013 season or the teams foreseeable future that the investments made in these players pay off.  When a team is run the way that the Packers are, players have to step up every year.  Often times a popular veteran is allowed to leave via free agency or released outright and unproven players have to become useful NFL contributors.


When the Packers decided to give Brad Jones a 3 year deal making starter’s money, it set off a chain reaction.  It became possible all of a sudden that one of AJ Hawk, Jones, and Desmond Bishop would not be on the opening day roster.  While there is a large contingent of Packer fans that would have liked to see AJ Hawk released, all signs pointed to Desmond Bishop being the one that the team was willing to part ways with.  Rumors surfaced during the draft that the Packers were willing to part with Bishop for a late round pick, sending reactionary fans (read: me) into quite a tizzy.



Is Mike Neal at OLB Salvaging a Career, or a Case of Crazy?

Mike Neal: outside linebacker.

Of all the news that has come out of Green Bay during OTAs, this is the one newsworthy item that stands out above the rest.

The concept of this is difficult to grasp. How could a 294 pound defensive lineman go from playing with his hand in the dirt to rushing the passer from a standing position, playing in space when necessary?

It might be a case of Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers making an effort to salvage Neal’s career.

Since entering the league as a second round draft choice in 2010, Neal’s production has been far less than what one would expect from a high draft selection. Twelve tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in a total of 17 games played is not exactly what the Packers envisioned from someone drafted as high as he was.

Injuries have plagued Neal since he was a rookie. Playing in just two games as a rookie and seven in his sophomore season, Neal was finally able to stay somewhat healthy in 2012 (even though he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy) and responded with his best season. Eleven tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in eleven games. Not exactly numbers that jump off the page, but a huge improvement from the 4 tackles and 1 sack Neal had in his fist two seasons COMBINED.

And now he is learning how to play outside linebacker.


ALL Packers Talk Podcast: Linebackers and NFL Draft Needs

The Packers’ linebackers group is put under the microscope as we put on our GM hats and take a look at “where we are now”, “where we want to be” and “how do we get there.” We plan on doing a series of these podcasts, looking closely at this Packers team, position group by position group, and analyzing where improvements are needed. Then, of course, we’ll examine some college prospects that could help the Packers.

Tune in for this expanded coverage of the original Packers Linebackers Position Group Post  and much, much more…

Listen using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

“All Packers Talk” is brought to you by the writers at, one of the most popular independent Packers websites on the internet. The show hosts are knowledgeable and entertaining, and most importantly, live, eat and breathe the Green Bay Packers. Their motto is “All Packers All the Time,” and they mean it!


Follow Packers Talk Radio Network:

Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the co-founder and editor of He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for