Who Will Play Defensive End in the Packers 4-3 Defense Next Season?

According to numerous published reports, new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley will make the 4-3 defense the team’s new base. Actually, since most NFL teams use nickel defenses as their base these days, Hafley will likely install a version of the 4-2-5 defense.

“I think this league’s a 4-2-5 league,” Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said shortly after Hafley was hired. “And I think, I’m certain, as Jeff comes in, and we’re very excited about that, the conversations about kind of how we’re going to want to play. Obviously through the interview process we had some of those, so, and that will be a work in progress. But as far as how we go about our process and scouting and what we’re looking for, probably won’t change a ton. But those conversations will probably be had over the next few weeks.”

The Packers have been playing a variation of the 3-4 for a long time now, so obviously, some changes are coming to the defense. But who will take over as defensive ends in the new defense?

There are differences between the way players need to operate playing on the edge as an outside linebacker and playing with their hand in the dirt as a defensive end. They are often facing different blockers on different angles. Defensive ends also start from a different position than outside linebackers playing the edge which makes their initial moves different.

Defensive ends also have different responsibilities against the run. Part of the reason is they line up immediately opposite an offensive lineman instead of the wider start outside linebackers get. Outside linebackers are also often starting a yard or more behind the line of scrimmage while defensive ends line up right at the line.

The Packers already have two strong candidates are already on the roster in Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness. Both of these players played defensive line in college and understand what is required of players at that position.

Gary played a very different role at the University of Michigan. His job in college was often to occupy multiple blockers in order to free up teammates to make tackles and sacks. That would not be his usual role in Hafley’s defense as the Packers count on Gary to provide pressure on the quarterback.

Van Ness also played along the line at Iowa. In fact, he played both defensive end and defensive tackle. His ability to rush the passer and chase down running plays from various positions was one of his strengths. Although Van Ness did not start any games at Iowa, he did play more snaps than the players ahead of him as he moved up and down the defensive line.

Both these players would have to adjust their games to play end in a four-man front, but it would not be an entirely new situation for them either.

It would also allow the Packers to have Gary, Preston Smith, and Van Ness on the field together along with defensive linemen Kenny Clark, Karl Brooks, T.J. Slaton, Devonte Wyatt and Colby Wooden. Inside linebacker Quay Walker has also flashed some ability to blitz and get to the passer.

The Packers could also bring in some players via free agency who have played under Hafley before either in college or in the NFL. Having players who know what is expected of them and how the system works could certainly assist the team in making the transition to a new defense.

Gutekunst will also likely add defensive ends and outside linebackers whose skill sets fit the requirements of a 4-3 defense. This will give Hafley more of the tools he needs to implement his system and run it effectively.

Last year, Gutekunst added Wooden and Brooks in the draft. Both played very well in their rookie campaigns. Expect Gutekunst to add more players this year, although likely in the middle or later rounds of the draft.  

Either way, changes are coming to the Packers defense. It is possible the team endures some growing pains early in the 2024 season as the players learn the finer points of the new system. But after underachieving under Joe Barry, there is now hope for this new and more aggressive form of defense Hafley is expected to install. By the end of the season, the Packers hope this defense is a much-improved unit and will be tough to beat.

 

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8 points
 

Comments (94)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Turophile's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:16 pm

"But after underachieving under Joe Barry, there is no hope for this new and more aggressive form of defense Hafley is expected to install."

you might want to re-think this sentence......

6 points
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HawkPacker's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:30 pm

I saw that as well and believe no sb now.

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:05 pm

220, 221 Whatever works.

1 points
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Turophile's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:54 pm

Spelling fixed. Now we have a chance !!

1 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

February 15, 2024 at 08:31 pm

“Now” hope or “No” hope?

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CoachJV's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:20 pm

I fear that Preston Smith is going to be the odd man out. He's never played with his hand in the dirt, and he's too big to move to ILB.
Too bad too because any time the D needed a vet to step up, P was always there to do it....

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:21 pm

A trade candidate.

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GregC's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:27 pm

From what I've read, Preston Smith should be able to transition to a 4-3 DE. He's got the size for it. It is late in his career to be making this change though, so we'll see what happens.

2 points
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dobber's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:13 pm

He played DE in college.

6 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:44 pm

He did play hand in the dirt for Washington.. I like Karl Brooks to take one of the DE spots. He is a natural there. Should be a good rotation, just need another Big for the inside. You could see the 49r front starting to fatigue in the 4th QTR. Eight guys for the depth chart.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:09 pm

Brooks was the first name that came to mind after Gary. I think it will suit him very well.

These days some Ds have DEs that stand up some or all of the time in games, depending on what the opponent is doing. That’s a result of the increasing use of motion. I’m not convinced we are going to necessarily see hands down all the time or all players doing so.

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:28 pm

A smart coach would let the player line up however he's the most productive. Hopefully we've added some smart coaches.

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MooPack's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:29 pm

It also depends on the DE/Rusher type. Power/Bull rushers should almost always be with a hand down. They get more natural lower explosion into the chest of the OL quicker and get them off balance. Then learn your other techniques off that. If they have no bull rush, then probably should be up for better vision and cornering speed. I hope the new DL coach can really work with them on hand placements (rip, overs, etc)

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mnbadger's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:30 pm

why couldn't PS put his hand in the dirt? He certainly shouldn't be asked to cover TE or RB's anymore.
Seems like we're better staffed to change to 4-3 than we were when changing to 3-4.
GPG

4 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:30 pm

Guess you didn't know the only pass Preston gave up was to Adams. He had a 42 passer rating against last year. Seems pretty good to me.

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LambeauPlain's picture

February 16, 2024 at 06:17 am

Good observation MNB.

I recall AK 74 moving to an OLB and being asked to cover receivers at times. It was an ill and unproductive fit for the prolific Kampman and he was soon gone.

I actually believe Preston will thrive doing what he does best...set the edge, attack the ball and rush the passer as his sole mission.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 16, 2024 at 01:59 pm

Moved him from the 4-3 to the 3-4 elephant. He was pissed off about the move.

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PatrickGB's picture

February 15, 2024 at 04:58 pm

I think he could play LB! Didn’t Barry’s defense have him cover WR’s?😉

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:09 pm

He played out of three points stance throughout college. He'll be fine.

https://youtu.be/z4xrpJOUY9Q?si=o_2QgGMlLe8gTnWL

4 points
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Cheezehead72's picture

February 16, 2024 at 06:10 am

Yes but even a vet gets to old to be a factor.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 16, 2024 at 02:01 pm

Calais Campbell would beg to differ. A big Fail by Ted, not trying to sign this guy when he first became a free agent.

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vkpolidora's picture

February 16, 2024 at 03:05 pm

P. Smith is the old man out. He won't be asked to cover the slot WR either (ie, Devonte Adams)
I love the change to 4-3!

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vkpolidora's picture

February 16, 2024 at 03:06 pm

P. Smith is the old man out. He won't be asked to cover the slot WR either (Devonte Adams)
I love the change to 4-3!

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golfpacker1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:29 pm

Hey Gil, it's a funny thing that you mention Van Ness did not start any games while @ Iowa. That's a tougher way to become a 1st round pick. I am a Hawkeye fan for a longtime. We have a solid coach in Stubborn Kirk Ferentz, but he is a difficult person to get to change his way of thinking most of the time. He is loyal to a fault to veteran players and seldom makes changes even when his system isn't working, or a player isn't playing well. Like his terrible choices of QBs and his anemic offenses the last 3 years. Enough of that.

What I wanted to point out is, like Van Ness playing behind players he was clearly better than, it has happened before and with a player I think the Packers should sign to eventually replace Preston Smith. He is also a former Hawkeye that sat behind lesser players and is a Bills FA now. A J Epenesa. 1st team All-American his last year and a one-man wrecking crew at Iowa. Iowa played A J @ 290 lbs so he could play Edge and also inside. It worked great and he had plenty of sacks, QB hits, and strip sacks. He stunk up the combine because he was too heavy and dropped to late 2nd round. He has got back down to 260lbs @ 6'5 and had a strong year with 7 sacks and 2 pic six this year.

A J would be a great, inexpensive, young, (25) FA for Green Bay to pick up. Probably in the $5 to $6 mill per year range with his best football ahead of him. Epenesa, and Bobby Wagner @ LB, and Jeremy Chinn @ S, are my 3 cheap, really good FA pickups this year to turn our Defense into a strength.

5 points
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MooPack's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:07 pm

"Stubborn Kirk Ferentz"

Hawk fan myself and completely agree. It can be both a quality and a fault. With offense it was a terrible fault. Hopefully the new OC can get the offense turned around. Can't get any worse.

As for Def, if Packers grab the top Iowa D player, like Cooper DeJean if available, they can't go wrong. One of the strongest defenses in the nation for a few years. Van Ness will probably end up better than Epenesa, but I'd take him on a cheaper contract.

I also wouldn't mind the Packers picking up Iowa TE Erick All later in the draft. TE not great need, but other than Musgrave and Kraft, nothing really there. Hawks always have well coached TE's. All and Lachey were a pretty good duo til they got hurt. I think All has a little more natural talent.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 04:55 pm

I don't know much about Erick All, because he got hurt so early MOO, but Cooper is the real deal and Iowa kids usually have their heads screwed on straight as well. Dejean is a playmaker, and he is like a more talented Mikah Hyde, and that's really a high compliment.

My idea for ILB to replace Campbell is to try to sign Bobby Wagner-Seahawks legend. He had 183 tackles last year @ 34 years old. I think he would change our run defense problem immediately. And he only made $4 mill last year.

The other FA LB I would chase is a guy we are familiar with, Josey Jewell. He won't make 183 tackles, but Josey is good at everything, and FAs are about filling holes and upgrading positions. Projected to make $7 mill per year. He could give us a 3-4 year bridge as he is only 28. What do you think?

3 points
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MooPack's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:08 pm

Erick All and Luke Lachey didn't get the press that other past Iowa TE's got. They both got injured this year so were never able to show worth as much. Lachey decided to go back for another year and All came out. I do think he has some talent, but would be a 3rd TE for the Packers at this stage and maybe never more than that. I do think he would be better than any other 3rd TE Packers have.

Generally I'm not a big fan of FA's because of cost unless they see a real difference maker. But if they can get either on a lower contract , then they could. Wagner has savvy that could help the younger guys, but does he still have the legs to compete anymore? Don't know. Honestly I didn't follow Jewell as well. Know who he is, but not gameplay. Packers cuts may get them some room. LB class is not great this year and I don't think they are going to spend a premium 2nd on one. 3rd or later maybe. So, it's a real possibility they could. I do think at some point they are going to draft one. I like Jaylan Ford or Trevin Wallace 4th/5th round.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 10:20 am

Wagner-183 tackles last year shows he has legs still. Even @ $6 or $7 mill per year for 2 years would be a bargain. The knowledge he could teach the younger guys would be priceless.
The only LB they should spend #58 on is Cooper from Texas A&M. He is the sideline to sideline LB we have needed for 20 years.

0 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:11 pm

I like your purchase-for-value approach - as I think it is similar to Gutekunst's m.o. He is not a big game hunter - i.e., overpaying for the top free agents. Rather he will seek younger, tier 2/3 free agents that still may have some upside but at an affordable salary. Like a Jeremy Chinn.

1 points
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GregC's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:29 pm

The question is not who will play DE. We've got plenty of those because the OLBs can all be DEs and maybe Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks as well. LB is where we will need some new players. Nowadays teams only play something like 30 to 40% of snaps in their base defense, but you know what? THAT'S ALOT. And it's especially important against our main division rival, the Lions, who have a very good running game. The Packers probably need to draft an LB in the early rounds and bring in a vet. They may also consider keeping D'Vondre Campbell, depending on his health.

8 points
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Guam's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:52 pm

My thoughts exactly GregC. We have eight DL right now with Clark, Wyatt, Slaton, Brooks, Wooden, Gary, Van Ness and P. Smith with potential for nine when Engbare gets healthy (although he may be a bit light for DE). The real challenge will be linebacker. If the Packers only play two, they need sideline to sideline guys that can cover and fly to the ball. They have one guy now who can do that - Walker. I suspect Campbell and McDuffie are going to be too slow for that role. The linebacking corps is where the major changes will happen, not DL.

2 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:45 pm

McDuffie ran a 4.6 and has very good instincts. He's really not too slow.

5 points
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Guam's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:59 pm

Hafley likely knows McDuffie pretty well - they overlapped one year at Boston College. Perhaps Hafley can make it work with McDuffie.

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CoachJV's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:42 pm

"We've got plenty of those because the OLBs can all be DEs"

That's not necessarily true. There's a HUGE difference in how you set the edge. And playing with a hand in the dirt is a different skill as well. Preston is not right for it and never played with a hand down. Gary hasn't done it since college. It gonna be tough for the switch.

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Coldworld's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:21 pm

I agree the transition often failed back in the 90s. However the pure Ds of that time have intermixed. Teams play 4:3 standing one or both DEs. They no longer rigidly line up in traditional alignments some or most of the time. We will have to see what the Hafley D looks like to know how much change there is and where.

1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:51 pm

Sage advice.

0 points
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Untylu1968's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:27 pm

Campbell quit on the team. He needs to relocate. Give me a couple of young and hungry guys...

2 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:35 pm

You don't keep Campbell when we can sign Bobby Wagner for $5 mill per year. I will gladly take his 180 Tackles every year instead of overpaid & underperforming Campbell.

2 points
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GregC's picture

February 15, 2024 at 12:54 pm

What if Wagner signs with another team? Then would you consider keeping Campbell?

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:44 pm

"We can sign Bobby Wagner for $5Mill per year" is a big maybe. There are plenty of other teams with way more money than GB. There has to be mutual interest and the right contract to sign a FA. You can't just assume. Plus, why wouldn't we go younger? Wagner is 33. At some point, the wheels are going to come off.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:55 pm

He likes living on the West Coast...

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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 10:51 am

I researched available FA LBs and saw how productive Wagner was last year. Seattle had previously not resigned Wagner hence he became a FA a couple years ago. Usually, older financially strong Pro athletes chase the rings later in their careers. I think GB would be attractive to Wagner and would pay him more than he made at Seattle to boot. Plus I love the fact that our current and draft LBs would benefit like crazy from Wagner being on the team.

Oh, and he led the NFL in tackles last year so there is that. We wouldn't be signing him to a stupid 5 year contract/boat anchor like we gave Campbell. 2 years would be about right.

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 16, 2024 at 02:02 pm

Go younger.

1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:51 pm

Lets just continue to go younger, no need to add age and salary at this point.

2 points
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bigpoppa09's picture

February 16, 2024 at 06:42 am

Its the Nick Perry Curse pay a LB after 1 decent year and he disappears.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:16 pm

Campbell is an $11M hit. Considering the majority of the game we're going to play with only one or two LBs, and we have Walker, I'm thinking Campbell might be finished here.

I'd line up VanNess-Slaton-Clark-Wyatt, I'd play Gary and Walker at LB. That would leave PSmith, and Wooden, and Brooks and McDuffie as rotation guys (Enagbare when he returns,too)

Maybe Smith will be the strongside linebacker. I don't know. I'd like to keep him with the team because he's a good player, but he may not fit.

0 points
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GregC's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:30 pm

Gary is a big guy who played DE in college. I can't imagine him at all as a 4-3 LB. My guess is that he will be happy with the switch to DE and will do just fine.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 15, 2024 at 07:20 pm

You could use him as the strongside LB, because he can play the run, but his forte is getting after the passer, which would make you want to play him on the weakside. You just want him on the field. He plays the run pretty well, destroys blockers, and is a real threat as a pass rusher.

-3 points
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Guam's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:07 pm

I don't think Gary has the lateral quickness or cover speed to be a LB in a two linebacker set up. I see him much more as a DE.

I hope Smith and Enagbare both find a home in this new defense. I like both and they are good players, but there certainly is a fit question.

I think Campbell is too much of a solution to the Packer's cap issues to keep him. Between his cap hit and his age, I will be very surprised if he isn't gone.

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:10 pm

In the 4-3 base, we're going to need two OLBs, so I don't think we've seen the last of him lining up in a two point stance and blitzing, especially from the weakside, but he's also good enough to hold up to the run. And if you put some guy like Van Ness at DE, that could be a lot of pressure from that side.

The majority of the time it'll be 4 guys rushing and 7 guys covering. We come after the QB with Gary, Van Ness, Clark, and Wyatt and we cover with a bunch of secondary guys and a backer or two. I like Walker for that, but not so much Campbell at $11M.

You want Gary rushing the passer from the edge on pass plays, and I think he works at both DE and OLB. Maybe PSmith, or VanNess, as well.

1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:27 pm

Did your "doctor" up the THC levels in your prescription? Gary isn't nearly agile enough to play off ball LB. He didn't drop more than 2 or 3 times all year at OLB. Then you contradict yourself by saying they'll mainly rush four. So what will Gary do then?

Wyatt isn't a DE either, Brooks played there in college so maybe he will get a chance if they can't find a productive 4th guy before Enagbare can make it back.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:01 pm

Gary was mis-cast as a stand up guy. He should hopefully play more soundly on contain with a 4-3/4-2 scheme.
The kid from Missouri, Darius Robinson is a beast.

0 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 15, 2024 at 07:04 pm

Finished? Hard to justify his comments with how the team played, and don't see how he can walk back his comments or save face without looking like an ass.

-1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 15, 2024 at 07:20 pm

Good veteran to keep. Attitude matters.

0 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:46 pm

Right on Leather. No, I wouldn't keep Campbell even if he was cheap and unproductive. Wagner, to me looks like a real bargain even @ $7 mill a year. He made $4 mill last year. Seattle doesn't seem overly interested even though he is still really good, and he is a legend there. He would be a gamechanger for GB in stopping the run.

If we can't get him, I would look at Josey Jewell-Broncos. Not as good tackling numbers as Wagner but who does? Jewell is younger and better in coverage. And is always in the right place.

Or maybe a cheap flyer on Cashman-Texans. In his first real chance to play he really excelled. I liked him in the draft because of coverage skills and he blew up the combine. Ran 4.5. He might be a steal.

By the way Walker is not slow either. Think what he could learn from a vet like Wagner or Jewell.

3 points
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Kevin Carpenter's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:31 pm

Either way, they need to revamp the secondary and the LB room in this draft unless they plan on bringing in veteran FA's. There's a lot of good LB's coming up in this draft and I think they should spend their resources drafting two of them. With their first 5 picks the Packers need to select a CB, S, T, G and LB in no particular order. I have had plenty of mock drafts and come away with a lot of talented players at all of those potions on days 1&2.

2 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 09:30 am

What about RB? Should be #88 to get the one we want. The 3rd round GB is going to have to start over drafting players because our picks are late from here on out so we can get who we want.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:11 pm

Or they could draft one of Cooper, Gray, Trotter,Jr, or Jaylen Ford. Get younger. Get faster.

2 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 09:32 am

Cooper would be a home run. Maybe he is still there @ #58. That would be the sideline to sideline LB we have been missing forever.

1 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:47 pm

Any success for a 4-3 / 4-2-5 scheme is dependent on a tightly covered middle field - which, to date, has been the D's achilles heel. That being so, it is imperative to have at least 2 mobile coverage LBs - of which the Packers only have 1 (Walker). So Gutekunst will need to add at least 2 more (1 starter and 1 depth) - which I think that he will do through free agency and the draft.

I like Bobby Wagner for 1 year - even at his advanced age - because he still remains one of the top coverage LBs. If the Packers draft Edgerin Cooper - then the team may be set for the foreseeable future at the position.

As for Campbell - I think that he'll be released. His lack of availability over the last 2 years - plus being on the wrong side of 30 - does not augur well for his future as a GBP.

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:41 pm

I really don't understand the fascination with this guy on the thread today, is it just because his name is Bobby Wagner and NFL fans know him? Anyway he definitely was NOT good in coverage last year. 80% completion percentage and 114 passer rating allowed last year. This after allowing an 81 passer rating the year before. Looks to me the dropoff has started.

There's plenty of LBs in the draft that are good in coverage. No need for over the hill vets.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:23 pm

Yes, Wagner looked past his prime by some way.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 08:19 pm

Frankie would love this thread.

1 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 10:55 am

183 TACKLES 183 TACKLES 183 TACKLES = STRONG RUN DEFENSE FOR CHEAP

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 16, 2024 at 01:56 pm

A strong run defender that's a liability in coverage isn't very helpful in today's NFL.

1 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 01:52 pm

As far as playing DE. I know he hasn't really shown it yet, but don't forget Cox. He is kind of a sleeper/wildcard DE/Edge for us. I am encouraged that there was no bad news about him last year. In college his head was the only thing holding him back. He has all the talent to be a good one. Maybe playing for pro money has got his attention.

Mid to late round draft guys would be Austin Booker, Brennan Jackson, Jalyx Hunt, Braiden Mcgregor or J J Weaver.

0 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:35 pm

I'm a big Brennan Jackson fan; I love his motor! I'd try moving him to OLB, even if he sits a year inactive.

0 points
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PatrickGB's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:03 pm

Cox is listed at 249lbs. A bit light for the position.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:45 pm

Not true. Leonard Floyd is 240 lbs and has been a good Edge player for years.

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Coldworld's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:32 pm

The average is higher though. 265 to 290 is the typical norm. Floyd is an outlier. That said, Cox looks like a guy who could add 10 pounds and more easily

0 points
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crayzpackfan's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:08 pm

"Although Van Ness did not start any games at Iowa, he did play more snaps than the players ahead of him as he moved up and down the defensive line."
This is so misunderstood by far too many people. LVN had the 2nd most snaps of the entire defense his final year. Iowa starts seniors ahead of everyone else, then pull them after a series or two. The whole LVN not starting thing is grossly misstated by writers to the point where the readers think he's an absolute greenhorn.

He will make a WAY better DE in a 4-3 than Edge in a 3-4. If this 4-3 - 4-2-5 scheme becomes a reality, LVN just might be the leagues biggest year two surprise. He is also fantastic against the run.

I would be more concerned about Smith making the transition. Brooks is another guy I think will benefit from this new scheme. I think Gary will need to grow into it, but will be a quick study and take off in this scheme mostly as a sack guy though (a good one at that).

5 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:36 pm

I complained about the selection of LVN to play OLB last year; his tape showed that he CLEARLY was better when playing DE. I think he's going to be GREAT there!

4 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 15, 2024 at 07:07 pm

Thanks for the great insights.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 09:37 am

Another former Hawkeye who would look great in Green & Gold is A J Epenesa. He was a offense wrecker in college and is just coming into his own now. Only 25 years old and projected cheap. (maybe $6mill per year) He is 6'5 and 265 now. He played @ 295 @ Iowa, but is faster now.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 09:48 am

Cox could be a sleeper/wildcard too. He has probably gained weight too.

1 points
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Fubared's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:28 pm

You gays may remember Ketchum who wrote for Mil Journal for the Packers and other sports. He was once asked why the packers never played a 4-3 and he said, they dont want to spend the money. He went on to say, the very good def ends you need to make it work mostly are early first rounders who command big bucks and the packers dont want to spend that kind of money. Made sense at the time.
The question this is, who do we have that has that strength and speed? Look at the LIons, they took Hutchinson like second or third pick? He is okay but he doesnt have a book end on the other side so he is ineffective being by himself. So were really talking two top defensive ends and at least three back ups to fill in. Ya I want to see how that works out also since you need power, size and speed to pull it off and Van Ness is the only one who comes close.

-8 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 15, 2024 at 02:49 pm

I could see us targeting an ILB with pick 88 in this draft; if we're lucky, that position will have value at that time. Payton Wilson, Junior Colson, Cedric Gray, Tommy Eichenberg, and even James Williams and TyRon Hopper, might all be possibilities.

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dobber's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:20 pm

There's some variability in how teams approach the "5" part of the 4-2-5. Some teams go with a true nickel. Others like to go with a hybrid S guy.

The transition from 4-3 to 3-4 in GB was really hard for an all-pro DE (Aaron Kampmann)...so those transitions aren't automatic, but I'm way less concerned with the DE spot--where the Packers have plenty of candidates for snaps--than I am that second LB next to Quay and that 5th DB role...not to mention the two safeties...

5 points
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splitpea1's picture

February 15, 2024 at 03:36 pm

And hopefully Van Ness is our man to seize those snaps if given the opportunity. I don't want to see him on the same limited snap path as Gary if he shows that he is a good fit. It's kind of an apples-to-oranges comparison, but look how some of our offensive rookies developed when they were thrown into the fire.

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:23 pm

That's where I am with this, too.

I blame it on that damn Philly Push. Because now, teams go for it on 4th and short. So if it's like 3rd and 5, you still have to respect the run enough not to give up 4 yards, because if you do, they'll convert 4th down and keep possession.

Three yards per play, convert 4th and short, and you win every game. I think you're really going to see this manifested this season unless the league takes some action against that 1 yard shove. When you switch from that 3 down mentality to that 4th down mentality, lots of things change.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:19 pm

T'vondre Sweat...

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:42 pm

Sweat is one huge mofo. It looks as though he's likely to go somewhere from 45-65 in the draft, so we'd pretty much have to go at #41 or wait until #58, or move around to get him, if you think he's that good.

Nothing seems to clog a running game up faster than some immovable guy who just makes a pile of humans where the hole should be. And how often do the Packers actually get a shot a guy like this? I think he'd make a difference over a 17 game season....he's gotta help in short yardage and goal line.

If we're going to play a 4-3, we're going to need 3 good DTs in a rotation. He'd be one. Add Clark, add Slaton. That wouldn't be a bad rotation.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

February 15, 2024 at 06:54 pm

Sweat did OK at the senior Bowl.
But Robinson was the star of the dL.
Keep this in mind.
He went against the best OL in years!
P.Smith needs to count his reps now.
You can get Nubin or a safety at 41 if not
trading both seconds to get in the first rd.
Otherwise I'm taking a ILB @ 58.
Picks 88 and 91 are for a slot corner and CB.
So DL, S, ILB, CB, CB, OL, Rbs Late.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 16, 2024 at 11:05 am

Robinson is a DE. He can go inside if necessary.

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 15, 2024 at 08:24 pm

You don't need hogs like sweat in a 4-3. You never line a nose at 0 tech in a 4-3 and ask him to control both A gaps. McKinley Jackson from Texas A&M is 325 lbs, has played more shaded like he'd seeing a 4-3 and has a lot of pass rush potential for a big guy. Slaton is way to inconsistent not being on competition IMO so I do hope they bring in another DT.

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Coldworld's picture

February 16, 2024 at 07:17 am

I think you are being a bit hard on Slaton. He took a big step this year. That said, I agree that the big run stuffer is typically found on (other) 3:4 teams. Why our versions were so averse to using for do long is a question that’s both baffled and irritated. That said, I also agree we should add a DT. Ford may actually be a be a candidate too. He’s more mobile than one thinks given his size.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 16, 2024 at 11:02 am

He can go from zero to the two-tech spots. He has a big wingspan over 80 inches and knocks down passes. He will probably be asked to slim down to the 340# range. He can go all three downs. He knocked the touted Washington Husky O-line all over the place. This is a guy who is more athletic than Gilbert. When a guy commands the Dbl team the other three make hay. He is my #41 pick, if he slides down. He may go upper 30's.
This is the best DT in this draft. They already have a bunch of 3 techs. Get Better. Stop the Run!

0 points
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stockholder's picture

February 15, 2024 at 04:44 pm

I could see any one of are current players at DE.
Before the switch to the 3-4-4.
There was-
Johnny Jolly 6’3 325. Ryan Pickett 6’2 338. @ DT
Mike Montgomery 6’5 282 . Aaron Kampman 6’4 260 @LDE
Notice the weight of the 3, over then Kampman.

And I expect Gary to be used like Kampman.
I also expect P. Smith @DE along with VanEss
Keeping both fresh.

But wouldn't it be nice to get another big guy like Cullen Jenkins?
You know the guy that played DE @6'2 305 and his pressures.
Well the best BPA just might be Darius Robinson 6'4 300 Missouri.
And if P.Smith is on his way out. Robinson is a great fit @25.

-2 points
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HarryHodag's picture

February 15, 2024 at 04:52 pm

One of the things I don't get too excited about is using material from the nearly endless array of national sports media dopes who write/talk about the Packers. How much of it is inside info vs. just pure speculation? There's a few writers who are legit, but most are just hot air.

There will be changes but you can't make too drastic of changes simply based on the availability of personnel.

One shift you might see could be another large human playing in the d-line. They have plenty of pass rushers but they need some run stoppers like Gilbert Brown was.

This is going to be a real challenge for Gute and Russ Ball. They need two safeties, at least one corner, a large mobile linebacker and possibly a run stuffer. On offense they likely will need a tackle or a guard. A tackle could move Zach Tom to guard if Runyan leaves. Lots of moving parts on a team that made a playoff run.

1 points
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bigpoppa09's picture

February 16, 2024 at 06:47 am

If we could get big Gilbert Brown and Sean Jones in there prime the middle would be clogged Gil ate up O lineman

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lou's picture

February 15, 2024 at 05:11 pm

Agree, stopping the run makes such a difference, just ask the Cowboys. Yes they have some defensive personnel challenges but the key is we have our QB of the future to build around, poor Bear's fans it has been since 1949 that they had a legit QB and it appears the Viking's will need to find a new QB shortly as well.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

February 16, 2024 at 06:45 am

Going into next season the DL, WR, and TE groups seem well stocked.

The DL has some good players for Hafley and his coaches to audition for the 4-3. DT has Kenny, Slaton, & Wyatt with strong competition from Brooks and Wooden to earn snaps. Brooks is the guy to watch.

DE has a scary group for opposing teams to plan for with Gary, Van Ness and Preston with competition in the rotation coming from Wooden and even Brooks who thrived as DE in college.

Van Ness is the guy to watch here. I think he could be a matchup challenge at all 4 DL positions.

Gary could really sparkle as a true DE. Mike Wahle made the observation that Gary, standing up as an Edge, actually uses a wasted step at the snap and somewhat negates his great quickness and speed being turned into power. Even then, he still pressured well but the sacks have dropped. In the 4-3 he would now explode like a cannon shot.

With these 8 players the Packers should provide a relentless, rotational attack to wear down OL's by the 4th quarter.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 16, 2024 at 09:58 am

Drafting Sweat would probably have to be at #41. That pick has to be Safety if we want a chance @ Kinchens or Nubin, who will start from day one and help transform the backend of the D. We want the best in this years draft, not the second tier guys.

No way we should spend that pick on a guy playing 2 out of 3 snaps at the most. WE can get a big run stopper type later. 7th round or UFDA NT types are Keyshawn Silver-Kentucky, Elijah Simmons-Tenn, or Jayson Jones-Auburn. All 3 are huge but also decent athletes.

#41 has to be Safety because both the best should be there still.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 16, 2024 at 02:02 pm

I think you're thinking of Justin Rogers from Auburn. Jones stayed in school.

In the 4-3 the Packers will be playing they won't be looking for Goliaths but penetrators. I'd guess 320 lbs would be about the limit unless they're freakishly quick.

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