On the Green Bay Packers roster are two of the more productive edge rushers in football during the 2021 season. Both Rashan Gary and Preston Smith would finish in the top-10 in pressures generated, according to PFFwith Gary also finishing second in pass-rush win rate and Smith 16th.
However, beyond those two, there are some question marks. Back in April, OLB coach Jason Rebrovich told reporters that he wants a rotation of four edge rushers each week that he can rely on. And right now, those roles are very much up for grabs.
Edge rusher — and getting after the quarterback in general — is one of the most important roles in all of football, but it’s also a heavily rotated one as well. As good as Smith and Gary are, both were on the field for roughly 68% of the defensive snaps last season, which means having a reliable rotation is key, considering that about one-third of the defensive snaps each week will happen with those two on the sidelines.
When Smith and Gary weren’t on the field in 2021, there was a noticeable lack of impact plays against both the pass and run. And while there is always going to be some dropoff going from these two to whoever the third and fourth options are, as Rebrovich also pointed out, the level of play from the depth players has to improve. After all, there is a reason why Green Bay felt the need to sign Whitney Mercilus after he was released by Houston.
Competing for those rotational roles this summer will be Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Enagbare, Randy Ramsey, La’Darius Hamilton, Chauncey Manac, and Kobe Jones.
Enagbare comes with plenty of upside as a pass rusher, but he is also a fifth-round rookie, so to some degree, expectations should be tempered. However, when it comes to Garvin, he brings upside as well, along with experience as he enters his third NFL season.
As a former seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Garvin is still just 22 years old and played nearly 400 snaps in his second season. Given where he was selected, that in itself is a success.
Last season, Garvin would record 25 pressures and two sacks. In terms of pass rush win rate — or simply, how often the pass rusher beats the blocker — Garvin ranked 76th out of 121 eligible edge rushers. By PFF’s run-stop rate, Garvin ranked 119th out of 133 edge rushers.
Again, there isn’t much that leaped off the page or screen when looking at Garvin’s 2022 season, but he is a former seventh-round pick who was in only his second season and saw his first bit of extended playing time. So it’s not as if anyone should be smashing the panic button either–and I’ll say again, he is a former seventh-round selection.
With that said, given the unknowns at the edge rusher position and that Garvin is entering his third NFL season and second in Joe Barry’s defense, if he can take a decent sized step forward, which many successful NFL players do in their second and third seasons , it will go a long way in solidifying this position.
Garvin brings a blend of athleticism and power to the position, posting a RAS of 8.98 coming out of Miami, excelling specifically in the vertical and broad jumps. In an article by Bill Huber of SI from last summer, he would write that former OLB coach Mike Smith would call Garvin’s power “grown man strength” and that David Bakhtiari had once told Smith that he struggles against Garvin’s power.
Garvin has the physical tools needed to be a successful player, and as Smith notes below, he is also incredibly intelligent. Now, after last season, he has experience as well. The next step is that the Green Bay Packers need him to put it all together so that the upside he possesses shows up on the film and in the stat sheet, which will ultimately provide stability to a rotational position with question marks.
“Garvin’s a damn good football player,” Mike Smith said last August via SI. “The one thing I love about him is he knows who he is. He’s not going to go out there and try to be flashy and do all this finesse stuff. It’s his strength. You can ask any of those offensive linemen; they struggle with him. There’s a lot of things that we’ve got to clean up with him, and he’s still learning – a lot like Rashan was his first year – but he’s going to be a damn good football player. One of the smartest, if not the smartest, in the room. Picks up things very, very fast. He’s going to have a great career. Just love his demeanor. I want to see his birth certificate. I think he’s 35. He’s got an old soul. But he’s going to be a good player. He’s still got a lot of growing to do, but he’s going to be a special player in this league.”