The Green Bay Packers’ biggest need going into the 2015 NFL draft was inside linebacker. The safety position was taken care of in 2014. It was taken care of by a first round pick. The Packers certainly didn’t do that in 2015. The only selection made was 4th round pick Jake Ryan.
When Ryan was selected there were easy comparisons to make. Jake Ryan is white. Jake Ryan wore #47. Jake Ryan played in the Big Ten. Jake Ryan is going to play inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Jake Ryan is the next AJ Hawk.
That’s fine, and honestly if he has AJ Hawk’s career that would be a pleasant outcome. Hawk was a usable starter on a Super Bowl team and started 136 games. If Jake Ryan starts 136 games we’re all going to be very, very impressed with hi as a 4th round pick.
Those comparisons, however convenient they may be, are lazy. Ryan is a different type of player than Hawk. I compared him more to Desmond Bishop coming out of college than I ever would have compared him to Hawk. He’s an attacking player who makes plays, not the assignment-sure field general that Hawk was.
It would have even made sense if the Packers wanted to use Ryan in that way coming out of college. Give him a short list of things to do and hope that he excels. After watching the Patriots game I’m not so sure that’s the case. The Packers are using Jake Ryan more like Clay Matthews than they ever used Hawk.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ryan played 45 snaps last Thursday. I studied the film and noticed 8 seperate times that Ryan dropped down to rush from the edge. That’s 18% of the time. Far more than AJ Hawk was ever used that way. In fact it looks a lot like the way that Matthews has been used since moving inside. He also spent a lot of time blitzing from the inside.
It’s not that the Packers are using Ryan as Matthews’ backup. It’s not that Ryan is only going to get snaps if Matthews is injured. It’s the manner that they use Ryan that makes me think they have big, big plans for him.