Aside from having a good quarterback and protecting him, getting to the opposing quarterback is the most important aspect of football. The Packers were not a great team at getting to the quarterback last year, and the possible departure of Clay Matthews in free agency would only magnify that weakness.
Though the Packers tied for eighth in sacks (44), they ranked only 14th in pressure rate (30.8 percent), per Football Outsiders, and their sack total was inflated in part by a seven-sack performance versus a dismal Buffalo Bills offensive line. Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell’s 6.5 sacks over the back half of the season also came as a surprise, seeing as Fackrell was a largely ineffective player in his first two seasons with the team.
With Matthews out, Nick Perry and Kyler Fackrell are the next men up. Perry is a low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 rusher, while Fackrell, as mentioned, has been mostly disappointing since joining the Packers. Fackrell’s sudden jump in production at the end of 2018 should not sway how the team feels about their pass-rushers, though.
Being equipped with two first-round picks, the Packers are in prime position to snag at least one premier edge-rusher, if not two. Florida’s Jachai Polite, Florida State’s Brian Burns and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat are popular options for the Packers to pick up, but they could also choose just one and then swing on a developmental project later on in the draft. More traditional players such as Michigan’s Chase Winovich and Texas’ Charles Omenihu should be on the table if defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wants to retool the unit to his specifications.