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Packers 2016 Defensive Line Grades: Mike Daniels shepherds young group

Green Bay’s vocal leader on defense was also the star of his position group - moving forward, he’ll need a player to emerge next to him to make the defensive line a true force on the defense.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Today, Acme Packing Company continues the examination of the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 roster. We continue to break down a different position on the roster throughout the week with examinations of the players on the 53-man roster in 2016, the contributions of new additions and players who signed new contracts, and players who have contracts expiring this offseason.

The Green Bay Packers’ defensive line got out to a terrific start in 2016. The team’s run defense was off to a historic start through their first four games, allowing 50 yards or less on the ground in each contest. Although they gave up a couple of big games to powerhouse rushing offenses like the Cowboys and Titans, the defensive line in general did an excellent job stopping the run, even when in the two-man nickel front that the Packers so often use.

However, getting pass rush from the down linemen was a challenge throughout the season. In fact, of the players who are full-time linemen, only two recorded any quarterback sacks, and only one was responsible for forcing any turnovers.


Mike Daniels

2016 Stats: 16 games, 16 starts — 33 total tackles (25 solo), 8 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup

Daniels was a beast once again this season, and with the Packers playing mainly in nickel and dime, he was lined up primarily at the three-technique spot where he is so effective. Daniels consistently took on multiple blockers and still managed to get penetration as a pass-rusher. As usual, he did not finish off the plays that often - usually leaving that to the outside linebackers - but he was the one consistent player to provide interior pass rush as well as get to the ball carriers.

Letroy Guion

2016 Stats: 15 games, 15 starts — 30 total tackles (20 solo), 6 TFL, 1 pass breakup

Guion is virtually nonexistent as a pass-rusher at this point in his career, but he was a pretty effective run defender throughout this season. It seemed that once per game, Guion was in the backfield and on top of a running back right off the snap. He is signed for another two seasons, and will likely continue to be a rotational player in the base defense and in nickel on first or second downs.


Kenny Clark

2016 Stats: 16 games, 2 starts — 21 total tackles (13 solo), 1 TFL, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 pass breakups

In his rookie season, Clark gradually worked his way into a larger role over the course of the season, eventually getting the second-most snaps per game (behind Daniels) over the final month of the season. Clark showed signs of pass-rush ability, but was primarily a run defender. He will have a chance to grow into a larger role over the course of the offseason and supplant Guion fully as the second primary lineman in the nickel.

Mike Pennel

2016 stats: 8 games played — 7 total tackles (5 solo), 3 TFL, 1 pass breakup

Pennel was suspended for a violation of the NFL’s drug policy for the first four games of the season, then served a 4-game suspension to close out the regular season as well. He played only sparingly during the 8 games for which he was active and he was released after his second suspension was complete rather than keeping him on the active roster.

Dean Lowry

2016 Stats: 15 games played — 8 total tackles (6 solo), 3 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass breakup

Lowry, a fourth-round pick, gradually worked his way into a role as a pass-rushing tackle and took on a larger role late in the season. He recorded sacks in back-to-back games during the Packers’ winning streak towards the end of the season and should be in line for a bigger role next season.

Christian Ringo

2016 stats: 7 games played — 2 total tackles (2 solo), 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble

After sitting on the practice squad for his first year in the NFL, Ringo made the team in 2016 and played primarily as the final man off the bench on the line. His highlights were both in week 14 against Seattle, when he forced a fumble on Alex Collins and had this doozy of a play:

Overall Grade: B-minus

The unit as a whole gets great credit for their play against the run, and overall the young players improved as the season went along. However, it would be nice to get more consistent production in rushing the passer, and only one player - Daniels - appears to be a plus player against both run and pass. There’s work to do here, but Mike Trgovac has some good-looking pieces to mold moving forward.