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Packers Post-Draft Positional Review: Defensive Line

Two new faces join the Packers' defensive front, but what kind of an impact will they make early on?


To kick off a series on the Green Bay Packers' roster after the draft, we have decided to start where the Packers did in the draft: on the defensive line. We try to project the depth chart on the line at this time and assess each player's overall chances at making the roster.


Datone Jones, RDE

As a first-round pick, Jones is obviously a lock to make the 2013 roster. He should instantly help bring some additional pass rush at the 5-technique defensive end position, and he very well could be the starter in week one.

Josh Boyd, LDE/NT

If he makes the roster, Boyd would likely rotate in and out of the lineup at the 3-technique end and nose tackle positions and help anchor against the run. However, as a 5th-round pick coming into a unit that has many veteran backups already, Boyd may be a practice squad candidate for 2013. He will need to perform better than C.J. Wilson or Mike Daniels in camp to earn a roster spot at the expense of one of them.

Gilbert Pena, NT

Pena comes to Green Bay as a undrafted free agent out of Mississippi and will understandably have an uphill climb to make the roster. A year on the practice squad would probably be just the thing he needs to come in and compete in 2014 for a backup spot.


B.J. Raji, LDE/NT

Raji remains the starter at left end, and much debate is swirling about whether or not he will remain a Packer after this season. We still feel that he can be a top-level 3-4 lineman as long as his snap count is kept in check. The addition of Jones and Boyd should provide a few extra productive bodies to help ease Raji's workload and keep him in better shape. What is also worth mentioning is that he was much more effective playing end once he switched positions with Pickett.

Ryan Pickett, NT

Speaking of Pickett, we get to the longtime Packer tackle whose contract is also expiring after this year. Pickett provides little to no help in the pass rush, but he still eats up blockers and provides a solid push against the run and allows the linebackers to flow to the ball. As long as his expectations are kept reasonable with his abilities, he remains highly effective.

Mike Neal, RDE

Neal's contribution comes in rushing the passer, in contrast to the other players at his position from last season. He actually played relatively well against the run for the first half of the season before putting up several poor performances in that phase of the game against the Vikings and 49ers at the end of the year. As a rotational pass-rusher, Neal's impact is impressive, and if he can learn to anchor better against the run he should compete with Jones for the starting job. Neal will have a roster spot in all likelihood, unless there is a major surprise in training camp.

Jerel Worthy, RDE

A prime candidate to open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Worthy was drafted with the goal of helping the pass rush but actually played significantly better against the run than he did against the pass. He wasn't an impact player like many had hoped for him in his first season, but he can stil be a valuable rotational piece if he can recover from his injury.

C.J. Wilson, RDE

Oh, C.J. Wilson, what will the Packers do with you? He has been solid, if not spectacular, against the run, but has struggled mightily to rush the passer in the slightest over his three seasons. He appears to be limited to being just a role player, and it's not hard to imagine a scenario where Wilson is not a member of the Packers in 2013.

Mike Daniels, DE

Daniels played all over the line in 2012, but graded out mostly neutrally in all phases of the game. Granted, Daniels did not take a large quantity of snaps, but overall his value was in spelling Raji and Pickett for a few snaps at a time and in not being a liability when he did so. His versatility will continue to make him valuable.

Johnny Jolly LDE

Here is the biggest question mark on the Packers' line at this time, and he is so for good reason. Nobody can really be sure what he has left in the tank or what kind of shape he is in until he gets out on the field. What surprised me was how poorly Jolly actually graded out from Pro Football Focus in the pass rush during his 2009 season. Over a few games during the middle of the season he played very well, but that came between long stretches of ineffectiveness. Hopefully he will com to camp motivated, but his odds of making the roster still appear to be rather long.

Jordan Miller, NT

Miller is the only true nose tackle on the roster besides Ryan Pickett, so unless the team still has plans for B.J. Raji at that position or feels good about Boyd filling in there, it may need to consider holding onto Miller this season. Making a judgment about his abilities is challenging right now, though, as he has played a total of 15 snaps (all in the week 16 game against Tennessee) with no real substantial impact.

Projected Depth Chart

LDE: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Johnny Jolly

NT: Ryan Pickett, Jordan Miller, Boyd, Gilbert Pena

RDE: Datone Jones, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Jerel Worthy

Check out all of Acme Packing Company's draft coverage: 2013 NFL Draft Central | Green Bay Selects Datone Jones in First Round | Green Bay Drafts Eddie Lacy in Second Round | Complete List of Packers' Draft Picks| Packers Undrafted Free Agent Tracker

Keep an eye on the news about quarterback Aaron Rodgers' new contract extension

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