The Green Bay Packers are going to have several difficult roster decisions to make in the next week. One particularly interesting position will be Edge rusher. Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Reggie Gilbert have cemented their status on the active roster, but the competition for the remaining one or two spots will come down to Chris Odom, Vince Biegel, Kyler Fackrell, and rookie Kendall Donnerson.
Donnerson was drafted in the 7th round out of Southeast Missouri State. While it’s difficult to expect much out of a late draft pick who played at a lower level of college football, Donnerson comes with some intriguing athletic traits. In fact, Here’s a look at two different players pre draft numbers:
Player A: 6’2” 246 lbs. 4.49 second 40 yard dash, 21 reps on bench press, 37.0” vertical jump, 126.0” broad jump, 6.88 second 3 cone drill, 4.12 second 20 yard shuttle.
Player B: 6’3” 250 lbs. 4.45 second 40 yard dash, 20 reps on bench press, 40.0” vertical jump, 131.0” broad jump, 7.06 second 3 cone drill, 4.37 second 20 yard shuttle..
Player A is Von Miller and Player B is Donnerson. Clearly, Kendall didn’t have the production in college to back up those raw numbers, but he has the potential to be an impact player on special teams and develop into an effective edge rusher.
Ideally, you would want a player as raw as Kendall to spend a year on the practice squad, but the struggles of Biegel, Fackrell, and Odom have opened up the possibility of making the active roster. Donnerson flashed in the first preseason game by forcing a fumble. His work the last two games has been more subtle, but he’s shown surprising discipline in his pass rush moves. I would expect a player with his skillset to try to burst around the tackle on every play, but Donnerson does a really nice job of setting the edge and ensuring it is a pass play before making his move. His pass rush moves are relatively unrefined at this point, but he does an excellent job of translating speed to power and has a good counter if his initial move is stymied.
Where the Packers likely need to see him prove himself is on special teams. Despite his struggles on defense, Fackrell is a key special teamer and Donnerson need to show he can replace that production to get a spot on the team. He’s going to get a lot of opportunities on Thursday night, and it is my prediction that Donnerson is going to flash enough that Brian Gutekunst is forced to keep him on this team.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 host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig