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Packers 2019 Draft: 3 Michigan Defenders that Make Sense in Green Bay

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Packers 2019 Draft: 3 Michigan Defenders that Make Sense in Green Bay

When it comes to the 2019 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers are in an incredibly strong position. For one, the team owns three of the top-44 picks and what makes that even better is that none of those picks need to be used on a quarterback.

The Packers, despite their 6-9-1 record and 13 wins over the last two seasons, aren't a massive rebuilding project. Sure, lots of changes have been made but the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, a pair of solid backs and an aging Jimmy Graham, as well as young up-and-comers at wide receiver. 

There is talent there and some talent on defense too. They key is finding more impact players on both sides of the ball. Whether that comes at linebacker, receiver, running back, defenisve tackle -- wherever.

It doesn't matter per se what position the guy plays as long as he becomes one of the best players on the team. That's what the Packers need out of the 12th pick of the NFL draft, especially since is their highest selection since 2009.

During that draft, Ted Thompson hit on B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and T. J. Lang. Soon after, each would help the team win a Super Bowl and all three were fixtures in the lineup.

Three starters in any draft is good, but three of that quality is rare. Not to mention getting a guy like Brad Jones. Injuries robbed Raji of a lot but in 2010, he was dominant. Matthews was an All-Pro.

The immedidate impact of those players helped transform the Packers defense and less than two years after making that pair of first-round picks, the Packers were Super Bowl champions.

The odds are long of that happening again, but history could repeat itself. The key is getting Aaron Rodgers right and then the next thing, is being right on these three criticial draft picks.

The Packers should be able to get three quality football players with those selections and if they nab three starters like they did in 2009, all three of which were eventually Pro Bowlers, then the turnaround doesn't have to take so long.

And when looking at those picks, it came across my mind that three Michigan football players seem to fit perfeclty in Green Bay with three chances to realistically take one of them.

I am not suggesting all three come to the Packers. That just seems foolish and improbable. However, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush and Chase Winovich all fit in Green Bay in their own way and here's a breakdown of why the Packers should draft them and at what pick they could go.

Rashan Gary, DE - 

When it comes to Gary, it doesn't really matter who you talk to, the 6-foot-5, 300 pound defensive end is a top-10 pick and he should be. 

The biggets knock against him is a lack of college production. The former No. 1 overall recruit had 10.5 career sacks and earned All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore and junior.

While he didn't get as many sacks as you might expect from a guy that big, who runs the 40-yard dash is 4.58, but he was constantly being double and triple teamed and sometimes in colleges, spread offenses make sacks harder to come by.

In terms of run defense, he's elite and he would have no trouble being a force in the run game right away. With the Packers, he could fit in a lot of ways. 

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine likes to use multiple fronts and Gary can play 3-4 defensive end, 4-3 defensive end and even defensive tackle. He's not really a nose but in pass rush situatuoins, he can play inside.

Maybe my best comparsions is that he has the athleticism of Julius Peppers in the body of Michael Strahan. In the right scheme, with the right coaches, he will be a building block.

His stats may never be eye-popping but if he somehow fell to the Packers at 12, they shouldn't hesitate to select him. A front with Kenny Clary, Mike Daniels and Rashan Gary would be fightening. It would also give the Packers the long-term flexibility to play an odd or even front. And on top of all that, Green Bay would get one of the best pass rushers in the draft. 

It probably won't happen because I doubt he falls that far, but it he does, thank your lucky stars because he would be ideal as a Green Bay Packer.

Devin Bush -- 

When it comes to Gary, being able to select him is either going to require a slide or dip in his draft stock or the Packers to trade up. 

However, when it comes to another Michigan defender, Devin Bush, the Packers could likely draft him at 12 or potentially at 30 if things go their way.

With the development of Blake Martinez the past two seasons, the need at inside linebacker might not seem as great. But as good as Martinez has been, there is a gaping hole next to him and Green Bay desperately needs an athletic, three-down linebacker.

Bush is slightly undersized at 5-foot-11, 228 pounds, yet he made up for it by running a 4.43 in the 40. He was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season and finished with career with `172 spots, 18.5 TFL, 10 sacks and 11 pass breakups.

The early entrant is physical in the run game and will be able to help shore up the run defense. He also doesn't need to come off the field. He can cover backs and tight ends, even receivers in zone, even if that's out of his comfort zone a little.

Bush is also a guy that could play a 4-3 or a 3-4. He is also tremendous pressuring the quarterback with all 10 of those sacks coming the last two seasons. And there is no doubt, tackling has been a weakness in Green Bay for years and Bush could shore that up. He also would bring an attitude of toughness to the Packers. No. 12 is probably too early but if he falls to No, 30 -- he's a no-brainder. He's also someone to consider trading up for. 

Chase Winovich --

Some Packers followers might not see pass rush as a huge need after signing Zadarius Smith and Preston Smith in free ageny. But I'd caution people that free agents don't always work out like they are supposed to.

The Smiths could come to Green Bay and post between 15-20 sacks. I hope that happens. It could transform the defense, along with Kyler Fackrell into a top-10 unit, one that could help win the NFC North.

Aaron Rodgers getting back to form and a top-10 defense is probably what this team needs to be a legit playoff contender and to guard against not enough pass rush, Chase Winovich could be a solid second-round option.

Winovich is a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end/outside linebacker that has a constant motor and finished his Michigan career with 43 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks. 

At one point, Winovich played tight end and linebacker, so his 4.59 time in the 40 shouldn't surprise anyone. He may not be quite as athletic as Clay Matthews but he's close and he feels like a perfect fit for the Packers.

Even if both Smiths work out and Fackrell has another good year, can Green Bay afford to pay Fackrell that kind of money he might want? 

That's a good question, but if Winovich could develop into a productive edge rusher with starting potential, Fackrell could walk if the price tag got too high.

Among pure edge rushers, Winovich is one of the best in this draft and he seems like he could easily be had at the 44th pick. 

On top of his pash rush skills though, he's exceptional against the run and would have no issue setting the edge as a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 end, even if he's on the light side.

Again, Winovich is a versatile defender that can do multiple things. He can defend the run, pressure the quarterback, play with his hand down and also stand up as a linebacker.

Some analysts have him projected to round 3. Yet, with his pass-rush skills and motor to succeed, I see him as a top-50 player and at No. 44, the Packers could do a lot worse. 




Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

Lots and lots of scenarios with GB’s top picks and who’ll be available , etc, etc. They definitely have the opportunity to make some great additions. However, by now, many fans have their own personal wish lists and will no doubt be disappointed early on. I hope we have the wisdom to be patient before declaring certain choices as “reaches” or “busts”.

Turophile's picture

Of the three you mentioned I'd be very wary of Gary at #12. Drafting high purely on potential is a quick way to get fired. Bush would be a nice upgrade, not my favourite guy, but good value at #30.

As for Winovich, he's ok, but you could get guys like Anthony Nelson, Ben Banogu, Mathieu Betts or even Maxx Crosby later. I think you could get one of these later, for better value than Winovich at #44 (don't think he's there at #75).

Agree with TKstinator that draftees need time. I've seen people dismiss Oren Burks already........that's way too soon. I'd write Spriggs off myself (he has had a full three years and still isn't very good) unless they cannot do better in TC, but let's give guys like Oren Burks, J'Mon Moore and Josh Jackson time to shine.

Hawg Hanner's picture

Devin Bush at 5'11 scares the hell out of me. Just a bit over Terrell Buckley in a land of giants.

mrtundra's picture

For some reason, I am leery of Gary and Smith. I cannot put my finger on why, though. I just feel they will not live up to their potential, or the hype surrounding either, if they get picked by the Packers.

TheVOR's picture

I'm that way with Devin White, originally had a 2nd round projection on him. He's no Roquan Smith, thats for shiz...

Bearmeat's picture

I'm not at all interested in a HWS prospect in round 1 who hasn't produced much in college. Does anyone remember a guy named Nick Perry? Go look at his combine. It was unreal. Go look at his college gametape - not so unreal.

I'd be ok with Devin Bush, but I really think we need to see what Oren Burks can do at chase ILB for longer than we have. Let's also not forget Josh Jones at that spot in the dime. And where is Amos going to play?

I'd be all for Burns, Sweat, Oliver at 12.

jannes bjornson's picture

Josh Jones is a D Bush type size-wise and has the 4.4 speed. Maybe he stays off the LOS and plays the nickle LB. Focus on DE/EDGE, Safety and OT
in the front of this draft. I like Winovich at 75 but he may be gone.

Duneslick's picture

Josh jones is not 237 lbs. He lost weight last year and is more like 210

jannes bjornson's picture

Jones is listed at 220# on the roster and Bush played at 228# during the season. Scouts have commented on Bush's size and do not believe he can get bigger. Just seems like a redundancy with Burks at 235# being groomed to be the chase Lb next to Martinez. Bush around #30 makes more sense than #12.

Handsback's picture

Gary is a very talented player. It's scary to see a guy that big move the way he does...same with Sweat. He's a hand in the dirt guy where Winovich and Bush are both LBs. Any of them, and all of them would make the Green Bay defense better.

stockholder's picture

I am not for drafting anybody in the top 3 picks, when I hear the word," potential". I want the word "starter" used. "Potential" is for the offensive Lineman this year. And reaching that "potential" doesn't happen enough in the NFL. The Defensive line was very good at Michigan. They knew their assignments. The LBs should have done more. I think Michigan players could be underachievers. They will never reach their full expectations. Bush really is undersized; when it comes to going against , the OL bodies in the NFL now. He has heart. We hope Singletary. But the packers can't afford not to get starter at pick #12. If it's potential the packers see in Michigan players,"Pass". I'd much rather have Wilkins.

Lare's picture

Pretty tough for a rookie to become an immediate starter. The players at the NFL level are all just so much bigger, stronger and faster than those they faced in college. But everyone pretty much is starting on the same level offensively with the new scheme.

fthisJack's picture

i think some of the OL in this draft have the potential to start. i feel like Risner or Lindstrom could come in and immediately challenge for a guard position. Risner could eventually move to OT.

hobowilly's picture

Yo! Nope not a fan of the Michigan players; i believe over the years the Big House players are overrated (just my opinion); we learned that too of the star from Ohio St who wore #50 for Green Bay--way overrated and reached for @ #5, never lived up to his hype, but he was a fairly dominant player in college....i think in the end, it was his speed and too he never seemed to meet players in the hole like a middle LB. His last 1/2 of his pro career he just took an uphill route to stop players 5 to 10 yards downfield. Now, back to 2019. Gute & Co. know what they're doing and won't chose a "potential" player @ 12 and may well trade away their #30, if their board and strategy puts them in such a situation. I have a bunch of faith they will have a draft in which 1) they truly get BPA @ 12 and 2) make at least half of their other selections decent. Please don't be too surprised if they pick a player earlier than most pundits may put him and don't be surprised if they reach for a fairly unknown from a "Mars" university as well.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't think Gary fits in Green Bay. He needs a one-gap system where he can just hit it. This will be especially true for the first couple of years until he develops some counter moves.

Winovich gets too much credit for his hair. He is not a young CM3. He's not horrible. I'd love him in the third or fourth round. But I don't think he is a top 50 guy. I don't think he is a future starter. I think he is a rotational guy or a guy who starts because you had an injury to your preferred starter.

I like Bush. I think Amos is a safety, so I'm o.k. with taking Bush at linebacker. Burks couldn't get off the bench last year. Jones didn't do much better. I'm sure Pettine has a bead on whether they will be able to contribute this year - I could easily see Burks geting cut in August. If the Packers draft an ILB early that will tell you all you need to know.

fthisJack's picture

pass on Gary...his motor runs hot and cold. bust written all over him. i'm hoping for a trade down to the later teens and picking up an extra third where the meat of this draft is and still getting a very good player. maybe the Giants will want to jump ahead of Washington for a QB or Washington wanting to swap picks to secure a QB.

albert999's picture

move up to get Allen

EddieLeeIvory's picture

You're 100% correct.
Either to #3 or #4.
Jets may take him at 3.

Johnblood27's picture

Grow up and get real.

The NFL is a team game.

Individuals sell jerseys and create "Buzz".

Teams win games and championships.

Pettine can scheme and coach a group of 11 good athletes with NFL level skills into a championship defense.

He does not need a "Superstar" and in fact his history and scheme show that giving away draft capital on one player would set him up for failure due to that one or two weak links, just like last year in GB.

If anywhere, he needs a star CB. If he has 3 pretty good ones, that can work, or one "half-the-field shutdown CB, but those are generational and certainly do not exist either on this roster or in this years draft.

Stay the course or trade back for more top 100 picks.

That is where the value is for players with the ability and mentality to become team player type starters on a contending team in todays watered down NFL.

The old ways are still the best ways. Team play will win the day over Fantasy Star performances.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

You do know that there are pundits and scouts who think Allen is overrated, and properly should slide to 10 or so, right? It is actually a weak draft at the very top. Even Bosa, who probably goes #2 or #3, isn't regarded as highly as his brother was.

Bert's picture

I'm not sold on anybody who's production in college doesn't match their potential. The only thing that matters really is production. If Gary underproduced in college then I'm guessing he will only frustrate the team and fans with his potential and enough splash plays to tease.

albert999's picture

Gary is not the right pick i don’t think

Bure9620's picture

Round 1 Pick 12: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida (A)
Round 2 Pick 6 (JAX): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, FS, Florida (A)
Round 2 Pick 12: Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College (A-)
Round 3 Pick 5 (JAX): Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M (A)
Round 3 Pick 11: Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts (A-)
Round 3 Pick 30 (LAR): Juan Thornhill, SS, Virginia (A+)
Round 4 Pick 12: Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa (A+)
Round 4 Pick 16: Blake Cashman, OLB/ILB, Minnesota (A+)
Round 5 Pick 12: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M (A+)
Round 6 Pick 12: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor (A+)
Round 6 Pick 21: Maxx Crosby, DE, E. Michigan (A+)
Round 7 Pick 12: Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn (A+)

PeteK's picture

Interesting draft picks. However, I would replace Chauncy with Winovich and Miles Sanders for Isabella and a CB instead of Trayveon . Love Taylor, Lindstrom, and Thornhill.

ILPackerBacker's picture

When an article starts with the idea Bulaga is a top talent in GB (arguable) much less in the nfl you don't need to read to idea # 2

Lphill's picture

I like all 3 , don’t know if the Packers will pick any of them but I would not pass on Bush at 12 , Bush and Martinez in the middle really would boost the defense.

RickInCali's picture

Hard pass on Gary. He was allegedly all-world in High School amd while he progressed athletically at Michigan - where are the otherworldly results? He was good. Not great. At 12? No thanks.

Winovich is smarter, tried harder, and had better results with less athletic tools to work with. Give me the guy who plays with his hair on fire or at least what looks like he has some pride in going hard at all times. He at least has that going for him and I’d be glad to have him at the right price. That price is NOT #30 and not at 44 if you could have Simmons, Savage or the BC O-Lineman instead.

Bush is a maybe to me. 12 is too high for an off-ball LB. At 30 he’ll be gone and I’d rather have Risner, Adderley, Thornhill, anyway.

You can’t discount position, immediate impact, immediate need. It’s about cost and opportunity cost.

KeepErMovin's picture

Winovich is an amazing athlete. Dont let the "try hard guy" false narrative confuse you. He tested in the 90th percentile or higher at the combine in the 40, the 3-cone, and the short shuttle.

KeepErMovin's picture

Winovich > Gary

efox2011's picture

There are 4 Michigan defenders that make sense for the Pack, gotta throw David Long in there. I've watched pretty much every game he's played (oddly enough, its the same with these other three), and do not understand why he's not viewed as a Day 1 or early Day 2 prospect.

Holecrap's picture

1. Gary is Perry 2.0. Takes plays off, goes missing in games and always has some I jury to work on.
2. Bush may be too small of body to stay healthy.
3. Winovich got handled in the osu game. His motor runs when he plays against guys he can get around.
M played against some crap teams and these guys make their numbers in those games. Went missing in the big games.

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