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Packers Training Camp Preview: DL looks to improve & enjoy new depth

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The Packers added a veteran and some youth to the competition on the D-line this offseason.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster prior to training camp, Acme Packing Company examines the tight-end position and reveals the pre-camp predictions for the team’s 2017 53-man roster. Ten APC contributors submitted full roster predictions, and we will present the consensus predictions drawn from those individual guesses over the weeks leading up to camp.

The 2017 defensive line for the Green Bay Packers is going to be one of the most important units on the team. After both free agent (gasp!) and draft day additions, the unit should have a new look this season and will be integral to the success and improvement of the Packers defense.

A group that, while the defensive backs took the scapegoat duties, was ravaged by injuries and severely handcuffed Dom Capers throughout the playoffs, and was ultimately shown against Dallas and Atlanta. Against the Cowboys, who were rolling out 12 and 13 personnel, and the green and gold would come out in Nickel, because they didn’t have the defensive line depth to play anything else.

The Packers only carried 5 defensive linemen a year ago, a very low number - Mike Daniels didn’t have a backup.

How the Packers decide to handle the LeTroy Guion situation is still to be seen. I’m going to treat it like he’s going to be kept around and on the 53 man once he gets off of suspension.

Returning Players

Mike Daniels

Year: 6th
Age: 28
How acquired: 4th-round draft pick in 2012

Mike Daniels continues to be out of the best bargains in the NFL. Daniels gets paid less than a lot of mediocre receivers in the NFL, and is the tone setter on the defense week in and week out. It was also reported that he immediately took Kenny Clark under his wing a year ago, and was outspoken this offseason about treating rookies to dinner, not vice versa.

LeTroy Guion

Year: 10th
Age: 32
How aquired: signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2014

LeTroy Guion is a solid nose tackle for the Packers. Guion, however, was charged for a DUI in Hawai’i this offseason, and prior to that was already slated to sit the first four games of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what Green Bay chooses to do with Guion. While it would be tough to argue them parting ways with the aging defensive lineman, he provides good depth along the line, and is stout against the run.

Kenny Clark

Year: 2nd
Age: 21
How acquired: 1st-Round draft pick in 2016

Kenny Clark was the youngest rookie in the 2016 NFL Draft class. Although it took him some time to acclimate to the NFL game, by the end of the season Clark was playing his best ball to date. In particular, he made a play on Ezekiel Elliot outside of the numbers on a screen pass in the playoffs. That is an ABSURD play to make for a rookie defensive lineman. Expect big things from Clark in 2017 as a starter.

Dean Lowry

Year: 2nd
Age: 23
How acquired: 4th-Round draft pick in 2016

Dean Lowry had a year to be expected of a mid-round rookie defensive lineman. He rotated in at five-technique defensive end, the only spot he can really play to avoid double teams due to his short arms. He was able to put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks when given the opportunity, something I anticipate continuing into 2017.

Christian Ringo

Year: 3rd
Age: 25
How acquired: 6th-Round draft pick in 2015

Ringo was a practice squad guy in 2015 before spending his first year on the 53-man roster in 2016. He’s a 3-technique in Green Bay’s defense, but it’s tough to get reps away from Mike Daniels. Ringo will also have to fight off Montravius Adams, this year’s 3rd-round pick. Ringo will have to optimize his opportunities to stick around.

Brian Price

Year: 2nd
Age: 23
How acquired: Undrafted free agent in 2016

Price hung around on the practice squad a year ago, and is a big body along the defensive line. He’s likely headed back to the PS, unless Green Bay moves on from Guion. With Guion, Clark and Jean-Francois all being capable of playing nose if needed, Price is likely the odd-man out.

New Additions

Ricky Jean-Francois

Year: 9th
Age: 30
How acquired: Unrestricted free agent in 2017

RJF has been a bit of a journeyman defensive lineman in odd fronts since entering the league out of LSU. He originally landed with the 49ers before playing in Indy and, most recently, in Washington. He provides the flexibility to play 1-technique if needed, but I anticipate him rotating in at both nose and 5-technique. He’s another dependable veteran presence to pair with Daniels to help mentor Clark, Lowry, and the next guy on this list.

Montravius Adams

Year: Rookie
Age: 21
How acquired: 3rd-Round draft pick in 2017

As it has been scientifically proven, defensive linemen who wear single digit numbers are #good. Adams was a top recruit coming out of HS, and while he never quite lived up to that hype, he’s a big, athletic body to add to the formerly depleted defensive front in Lambeau Land. Adams will be the backup 3-technique behind Mike Daniels, and will compete with Christian Ringo for reps.

Izaah Lunsford

Year: Rookie
Age: 23
How acquired: signed as undrafted free agent in 2017

I wish I could have more of an opinion or a take on the rookie out of Bowling Green. At 6’3” 310, he fits the body type that Green Bay looks for. He’ll likely be competing for a practice squad position with Brian Price.