At first blush, the drafting of Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson seemed like insurance against both Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly heading into the last year of their respective contracts, not to mention Jolly’s legal troubles.
But upon closer inspection, what does the drafting of two rookie defensive linemen have to say about second-year pro Jarius Wynn?
Wynn is coming off a rookie season in which he played in 11 games collecting a total of five tackles. He showed some pass rush potential late in training camp in exhibition-game action during 2009, but it didn’t carry over into the regular season.
At a listed weight of 285 pounds, Wynn is a little on the small size for a 3-4 defensive end. His size deficiency became especially apparent when he was rendered ineffective as an interior pass rusher in nickel situations.
Fast forward to April 2010 when the Packers drafted two defensive linemen, both with bigger frames than Wynn. Neal is listed at 294 pounds and Wilson at 290. Neal, especially, is known for his weightlifter’s physique and ability to anchor at the point of attack. Wilson, meanwhile, is a noted collegiate pass rusher.
At a position where the Packers are likely to keep six, maybe seven players, Wynn looks to have a war ahead of him to nail down a roster spot during training camp this season.
Assured of roster spots are Jenkins, Neal, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji. Jolly would also seem to be a good bet depending on the outcome of his trial. That leaves Wynn duking it out with Wilson, Justin Harrell, Anthony Toribio, Aleric Mullins and Ronald Talley for one or maybe two jobs.
Justin Harrell is going to be given every opportunity to prove himself during training camp this season, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a tough cut based on first-round potential alone.
As usual, any injuries that happen to crop up will play a large role in determining who makes the 53-man roster, but the drafting of two rookies at Wynn’s position did the Georgia product no favors. And it’s enough to evidence to make one wonder how much confidence the coaching staff has in him.