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 in the weeks leading up to the start of camp.
The Packers are returning all five members of 2016’s final rostered defensive linemen, pending the future of nose tackle Letroy Guion. Green Bay has added some more depth to a unit that was in desperate need at the end of last season, so which of these reserves will make the team to start the 2017 season? Here is APC’s guess.
Mike Daniels is one of the more underappreciated players in the NFL. He’s a spark plug in the Packers’ defensive front, and a disruptive force against opposing offenses. Daniels is an almost impossible matchup for guards with his low center of gravity and ability to get up field. Daniels finished with 33 tackles and 4 sacks a year ago. He’ll be the starting 3-technique on Day 1.
I think Kenny Clark will start the first 4 games at nose tackle, but I think he’ll remain in the lineup once Guion returns. The 2016 1st-Round pick had a pretty pedestrian season, but playing some of his rookie season as a 20 year old, Clark will make jumps quickly. The play he made on Zeke Elliot outside the numbers was obscene. Clark is #good. 21 tackles in 2016 will go up significantly.
RJF will start the first four games of the season, but I anticipate him in a rotational role past that point. Jean-Francois is pretty versatile up front, and has been a staple in odd-fronts his whole career. He is able to play nose tackle as well as five technique to spell Clark, Guion, or Dean Lowry. He’s not a pass rusher, but he’s rock solid against the run.
Lowry only registered 8 tackles a year ago, but had 2 sacks. His short arms somewhat handicap him as a run defender, but he showed the ability to pressure the passer last season, and I anticipate that being his primary role in his sophomore season. He’ll be a rotational piece along the defensive line that should enjoy both more talent and depth this season.
Adams, the rookie 3rd rounder, will be Mike Daniels’ backup at three technique. Adams lacks refinement as a defensive lineman, but he’s a large, athletic body with some explosion to wreak havoc inside. I expect Adams to be brought along slowly, with his snap count weekly gradually increasing. Adams never really became the sum of his parts at Auburn, so it will be interesting to see how he’s utilized early in Green Bay.
Suspended to Start 2017
When he’s been able to play, he’s started. However, the veteran nose tackle was arrested for a DUI in Hawai’i this offseason, and is suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season due to previous legal issues. Guion had 30 tackles a year ago. He’s not a twitchy athlete, but Guion is a very solid run defender.
Missing the Cut
Christian Ringo, Brian Price, Izaah Lunsford
I expect the unit to be much improved from a year ago. With Clark and Lowry now having a year under their belts, and with an injection of athleticism in Adams, they’ll gel nicely. Daniels and Guion (if he remains on the team after suspension) along with the addition of Ricky Jean-Francois will look to dictate the pace for the unit. They’ll be solid against the run, and should improve rushing the passer.