Welcome to the prediction section of the offseason. Through the rest of the week, Acme Packing Company will present our overall roster predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ season-opening 53-man roster. Today, we continue with the Packers’ defensive linemen.
Defense became the on-field focus of Packers’ offseason from the moment the team announced the firing of longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers. That remains the case now, with Mike Pettine and a new scheme coming into Green Bay.
In his first year at the helm, Pettine will rely heavily on his defensive line, which contains the most proven talent of any group on the defense. That includes a former star from Pettine’s past.
Starters: Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark
Though Pettine might use fewer two-man fronts than his predecessor, Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark should expect to see plenty of work in a variety of defensive sets. Both enjoyed productive campaigns in 2017 despite injuries and could get more pass-rushing opportunities than in the past. Clark, who doesn’t turn 23 until October, has the chance to establish himself as a true field-tilting player in his third season. If he does so, Green Bay’s defense will almost certain perform better than a year ago.
Reserves: Muhammad Wilkerson, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, James Looney
Though not technically a starter, Muhammad Wilkerson enters training camp in the driver’s seat to get most of the work at the five-tech spot. Wilkerson worked under Pettine during their days with the New York Jets, a relationship that helped pave the way for the veteran defensive lineman’s deal in Green Bay. Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams will battle Wilkerson for that role. Lowry has shown flashes of starting potential while Adams essentially enters 2018 as a rookie. Sneaking in with one of the final roster spots available, rookie James Looney will see most of his action on special teams.
Releases: Tyler Lancaster, Conor Sheehy, Joey Mbu
With six defensive linemen already making the cut, the Packers just don’t have enough room to retain undrafted free agents Tyler Lancaster and Conor Sheehy nor free-agent signing Joey Mbu. That could change if injuries hack away at some of Green Bay’s depth along the interior, but it would otherwise take a Herculean effort for one of these players to make a dent in the roster.