The Green Bay Packers lost Za’Darius Smith during the offseason, but they have another high-caliber pass rusher to take his place in Rashan Gary.
The majority of NFL fans outside of Titletown probably don’t know who Gary is, despite him being a top-12 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
But, that should change in 2022.
A very, very solid 2021 season combined with the departure of Smith has Gary ready to officially step into a full-time role, which will only boost his numbers.
And, according to ESPN‘s Rob Demovsky, Gary is already seizing his opportunity. ESPN recently published a column highlighting the “surprise offseason standouts/under-the-radar players to know” from each team and Gary made the cut for the Packers.
Below is what Demovsky wrote in regard to Gary:
“In an offseason in which the Packers did almost no full-speed 11-on-11 work, no one was given much of an opportunity to stand out. Gary, however, had as good a spring as anyone. He looked lean and muscular coming off a career-best season with 9.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits. And he was one of the few starters who stuck around through the end of OTAs, saying, “I’m just here trying to get better.”
Should Gary really be considered a surprise/under-the-radar player?
At the end of the day: yes. It makes sense.
However, there are probably plenty of others who are considered to be more in the surprise/under-the-radar category than Gary.
So, even though it seems a tad out of place, there’s one big takeaway from Demovsky’s choice: Gary is ready to pop off in 2022. The fact he’s already standing out in June is a great sign to where his mindset is, right now. It shows he wants to prove the Packers right in backing him and he’s setting a great example, at the same time.
This is exactly what the Packers -and their fans- want to hear, right now. Gary is going to be a key focal point on the Packers defense and the unit is expected to play a big role in 2022’s potential/hopeful Super Bowl run.
It’s very, very safe to assume that this defense doesn’t reach its potential without an effective Gary. One that needs to be even better than he was in 2021.
And right now, it sounds like that’s the exact trajectory he’s on.
You can check out ESPN’s full column, here.
Featured image via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports