Over the next few days as we lead up to the start of the Green Bay Packers' OTAs on Monday, we will be taking a look at a few players who really need a big, solid performance this off-season to establish themselves and either earn a roster spot for the first time or prove that they are still worthy of one. Today's player of choice is defensive end C.J. Wilson.
Wilson has been one of the Packers' most consistent run defenders along the defensive line for the last three years after coming to Green Bay as a seventh-round draft pick in 2010. Wilson has played 42 of the possible 48 games over those three seasons (with 11 starts), but he is consistently rotated off the field in passing situations - in 2012 he was playing run defense on around 55% of his snaps according to Pro Football Focus.
The problem for Wilson is that he has brought minimal pass rushing ability to the position, and when Ryan Pickett is another starting lineman, that leaves two of the three players up front who can eat up blockers in the run game but who provide little to no pocket pressure. This is where Wilson will need to show some substantial improvement in the off-season.
Wilson is a known quantity at this point, and he plays a position where versatility and pass-rushing ability are now present in the addition of first-round pick Datone Jones. The rookie has to be assumed to be the starter by default at this point, and Wilson will be left battling for playing time with the likes of Mike Neal, Johnny Jolly, and Mike Daniels. Each of those players has shown some sign of life in rushing the passer, so Wilson cannot afford to be just a two-down player on the line this season.