Now that Rashan Gary has been drafted by the Green Bay Packers at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., here's a look at what fans need to know about the 6'4", 277-pound Michigan defensive end.
As far as his natural gifts go, Gary is as talented as any defensive player in this draft class. He’s an explosive athlete who plays with violence in close quarters but also has the quickness to simply blow past blockers into the backfield. He has violent hands and the ability to bully blockers, manhandling tight ends as a run defender. When playing the edge, he has more than enough strength and the stable base to set the edge effectively. His rare athleticism allows him to do more than drop to a spot and stand in coverage; he can run with some tight ends and backs underneath.
He never played up to his potential at Michigan. That lack of production, combined with nagging shoulder problems, makes Gary one of the riskier picks in this draft. While he’s explosive as an athlete, he’s more of a straight-line mover and won’t effectively bend the edge rushing the passer — he’ll need to be aligned inside on obvious passing downs, but he’s a little too light to hold up as a 3-technique on early downs. As a pass rusher, he’ll have to develop a more creative approach against NFL blockers after relying solely on his athleticism to win at the collegiate level. He also doesn’t show great instincts as far as locating the ball in the run game.
He has a lot of similarities to a young Jadeveon Clowney — Gary won’t bend the edge consistently, and he is a bit raw, but he fits as a penetrating interior pass rusher who can play some end on early downs. He just didn’t produce the tape to match the talent. It will be up to a position coach to get the most out of him, and Gary certainly has All-Pro potential if he reaches his ceiling.