The Green Bay Packers have worked on their roster over the last few seasons, mostly on the defensive side. Kevin King is having his best season start of his career, and Jaire Alexander looks like a soon-to-be All-Pro if he continues his assertive performance in coverage. That shows that the Packers will be a solid option for those betting on sports in Illinois, though the other teams have also worked on their rosters.
During this offseason, the team brought in three defensive studs to the roster through free agency by signing linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, and safety Adrian Amos. The three moves alone would have made the defensive side look more different than in past years. However, General Manager Brian Gutekunst wasn’t done just yet.
The GM signed Billy Turner during free agency, in addition to the drafting of Elgton Jenkins out of Mississippi State in the second round. Jenkins’ draft was the highest offensive pick ever made by Gutey, and the first second-round offensive pick since Jason Spriggs in 2016.
In the last four games in 2019, the rookies were asked to play a more prominent role than what the team initially expected. That included Jenkins, who has now come on as a substitute at left guard in place of Lane Taylor, who’s currently on injured reserve.
Jenkins has so far taken 151 offensive snaps this season and has had only one penalty called against him, with zero sacks – and three total pressures. He has an overall player rating of 68.9, with a run-blocking grade of 69.6 and a pass-blocking grade of 69.8. That’s a good start for a player with the responsibility of keeping future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodger upright.
And now let’s look at the defensive side of the ball. Gary’s numbers aren’t as impressive given that he’s not in a starting role, although he’s getting good reps through four weeks. Gary has played in 64 total snaps this season, dividing his time between 25 run defense snaps with one sack in 39 pass-rush snaps.
Garry has also been responsible for two hurries, five total pressures, and one quarterback hit in addition to his lone sack. His best performance of the season was against the Chicago Bears where he only played in six snaps. However, he had a defensive rating of 76.1 and a pass rush rating of 73.3 – his best score of the season. Even with the addition of both P. Smith (79.3 overall rating, 12 hurries, 19 total pressures, four sacks) and Z. Smith (15 hurries, 72.6 overall rating, 23 total pressures, three sacks) to the edge rush rotation.
Safety Darnell Savage was anointed with starting status pretty much the day he stepped onto the field with the Packers. He’s been credited by the coaches as being a very quick study and understanding of the defensive schemes much quicker than the majority of rookies. After five games, Savage has been in on 18 total tackles, with an interception and a forced fumble.
Fith-round pick Kingsley Keke has also contributed on the defensive side of the ball. Keke has played in just 19 snaps as he was inactive for weeks 1 and 2, although he has played well against the run in the 19 snaps. While tallying only five snaps against the run, PFF has graded Keke a 72.1 with a 64.4 overall grade. He’s another rookie who should see an increase in playing time as the season goes, especially if the injury of Montravius Adams keeps him out for a few more weeks.
Among other rookies, inside linebacker Ty Summers has appeared on special teams each week for the Packers, although he yet to make any defensive snaps this season. That shows the 2019 Draft class for the Packers is already making an influence, though the sample size is still small.