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Lambeau Leap of Faith


May 12, 2010 12:27 AM

Packers Unit Grades, Part V: Defensive Line

This is one of three editions grading the defensive line. To see the accompanying pieces, follow the links to the starting three players and the entire unit's grade; this piece is on the back-up players, only three of which rotated in...their grades are modified based on their expectations:

B.J. Raji: A

Raji was the only other lineman who was given ample playing time, and played both tackle and end during the season. Being a rookie adapting to two positions in a 3-4, his performance was quite impressive.

Despite the defense being structured for the statistical production going to linebackers, he managed 19 tackles and six assists to go with a sack. Given that he was more versatile than any other lineman, got less playing time than the starters and still fell only five tackles short of the unit leader and only one player on a very good Green Bay line generated more sacks, he did all that could reasonably be expected of him.3961148562_370a176974.jpg

Jarius Wynn: C-

Wynn only was active for 11 games, and his playing time came mostly in three of the Packers biggest blowout wins. While an undersized rookie defensive end in a 3-4 at just 285 lbs., the Packers could have benefited from a player who showed more on the pass rush and allowed them to spell the four-man rotation that was highly taxed; true, most of this was because the players in front of him were playing well even without the rest, but a good player finds his way onto the field anyway.

Instead, after a preseason in which he showed that potential, generating consistent pressure, two sacks and a fumble forced, Wynn just did not show enough for the coaches to trust him even in obvious passing situations late in games. He had four games in which he recorded a single tackle, and nothing else to show for his season.

Mike Montgomery: F

Proving Minnesota is really where Green Bay cast-offs find a home, Montgomery signed with the Vikings this off-season. there is good reason the Packers did not care to keep him in the fold: He played in just ten games, got most of his action in a blowout win against the Seattle Seahawks, and managed just two tackles.

The reality is the veteran was being counted on to rotate in on a thin line, but instead was buried below a rookie mid-round pick. Even when given a start in the preseason, Montgomery only managed one tackle--he would likely have been seventh in the defensive line rotation this year, and that is far enough down to not even be active for special teams, in which he was not a factor.

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