While the cornerback position is hands-down the Green Bay Packers’ greatest area of need as we gradually inch closer to this year’s late April draft, one can argue that all three levels of defense can use an infusion of young talent capable of stepping in and making an immediate impact on a unit suddenly devoid of the types of playmakers that can win ballgames.
And while edge players are usually the ones afforded national recognition for producing double-digit sack seasons, that glory is often the result of the grunt work put in by the guys that have to bite, tug, scratch or claw their way along the interior just to gain a few inches in the hopes of disrupting the offense.
A quick glance at the weekly box scores indicate that in their first eight games, opponents were held to 60 yards or fewer six times. In five of those eight weeks, the Dom Capers-led unit held the offense to 3 yards per carry or fewer.
The second half painted a different picture, however, with the Packers giving up an average of 77 yards to the adversary’s leading rusher compared to 53.6 yards in the first eight games.
In fact, teams routinely owned the trenches by averaging 4.5 yards per carry in seven of the remaining eight contests down the stretch.
While Mike Daniels was an every-week stalwart that led his fellow line mates with four sacks, the only other full-time lineman to register any stats in that department was rookie Dean Lowry, who finished the year with two sacks in a part-time role.
The 31-year-old Letroy Guion faded as the season wore on and struggled versus the run and pass as a direct result of probably playing too many snaps.
Former Packer(and current New York Jet) Mike Pennel, on the other hand, was a shadow of the forceful player he was developing into over his first two NFL seasons before being penalized a second time for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy with another four-game suspension.
First-round pick Kenny Clark showed flashes late, but went through long stretches where he struggled to disengage from blockers and gain any consistent penetration.
And though the free-agent market can certainly supply some much-needed inside juice – namely in the form of Calais Campbell – counting on the Packers’ front office to secure a big name among the available UFAs would be like counting on an orange-haired billionaire to make America great again … according to who you talk to, of course.
GM Ted Thompson isn’t winning any popularity contests among the Cheesehead faithful at the moment, but could sway a few fans in his corner by using at least five of his eight draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.
And since the Packers rarely dabble in shopping for free agents, the team will need three or four of those selections to contribute as rookies.
Today we are going to focus on one defensive lineman with Day-2 upside that has the physical attributes to galvanize the front line and help it become the kind of an impenetrable wall that would make our fearless leader of the free world proud.
In a recent interview, Ryan Glasgow, a fifth-year senior, revealed that his secret to his success was hard work and doing whatever it takes to overpower enemy blockers inside the tackles where a number of underhanded yanks, hooks and even facemasks often go undetected.
Fresh off a Senior Bowl performance in which this Big Ten man of steel distinguished himself by outmuscling fellow prospects throughout the week in Mobile, Ryan Glasgow seems primed to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Graham, and become the second of his clan to become a Day-2 selection in a little over two months.
Week in and week out, Wolverines’ coach Jim Harbaugh knew what to expect from the 6-foot-3, 299-pound defensive tackle who made a habit of using his massive hands and powerful lower body to collapse the pocket against one-on-one blocking.
In a 2015 meeting versus Northwestern, Glasgow was a constant thorn in the Wildcats’ side by coming off the ball the moment it was snapped, delivering the initial punch to his man and proceeding to get underneath his pads before discarding the overmatched interior blocker.
And when the offense resorted to double-teaming him, the two-time All-Big Ten honoree stood his ground and wouldn’t give up an inch of territory.
Apr 4, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverine quarterback Alex Malzone is tackled by defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow during the Spring football game at Michigan Stadium. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Glasgow’s 2016 senior campaign was highlighted by a dominant Oct. 1 outing versus a formidable Wisconsin running attack in which No. 96 made his presence felt by barricading opposing running lanes against double-teams.
And while the Badgers would end the season averaging 203.1 yards per game on the ground, Glasgow continually stoned every two-man combination he faced and earned himself an 86.4 grade by Pro Football Focus (PFF) on a day when the Maize and Blue held Wisconsin running backs to 77 yards.
During the pre-draft period, the 23-year-old has nothing to prove to NFL evaluators as a pure run defender. Instead, his challenge will be to demonstrate that he has what it takes to be an effective pass rusher.
The strength and balance (see wide-base technique) are certainly there, but versus the pass Glasgow flashes a power club move to knock pass protectors off balance when pressuring the quarterback.
He claims to have the hips to turn and close in on opposing signal callers, but his game is all about leverage and strength much like (Mike) Daniels.
What better way, in fact, to help relieve Daniels of the many double-teams he’s subjected to than by putting a similar version of himself right alongside the five-year veteran?
In addition to possessing the ability to win inside brawls, Glasgow does a solid job pursuing plays laterally inside his box area and can come down the line to chase ball carriers on the opposite side.
He also measures up from a purely physical standpoint with 32 ¾-inch arms on a solidly-built frame that doesn’t feature the amount of body fat with which most inside linemen are insulated.
The fact that this Aurora, Ill., native shares the same kind of competitive fire his brother brings to the football field is another plus that gives the younger Glasgow the look of a money-in-the-bank type of pick.
Yes, this Wolverine has claws and the Packers can fill a major need by investing a high pick in Glasgow, who would bring heart and production, but can additionally provide a pocket-pushing prowess that can enhance the outside rush.