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Room for youth on the Packers' defensive line

Posted Feb 14, 2013

Games against 49ers, Giants, Vikings define need

Packers.com is examining the Packers’ roster, position by position. In the fifth installment, we look at the defensive line.

GREEN BAY—A defensive line that got younger with the additions of Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels last season, might add even more youth in this year’s draft, the strength of which is thought to be defensive linemen.

The Packers defensive line made more big plays and offered more of a pass rush in 2012, but it surrendered a lot of rushing yardage, especially in games against the Giants, 49ers and Vikings. In those six games alone, the Packers allowed 1,280 yards rushing.

Ryan Pickett has been the anchor of the Packers defensive line for the past several years. He was one of the stars of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV win, spilling the play that resulted in the fumble that saved the day in the Packers’ win over the Steelers.

Pickett, however, would be in his 13th season next fall and will turn 34 in October. Clearly, younger would be better for a Packers defensive line that has nose tackle B.J. Raji nearing the end of his contract. Last season, for the first time in their four years together, neither player registered a sack.

Worthy, a second-round pick in 2012, flashed quickness and athleticism in a season dedicated to conversion from the 4-3, penetration role he played in college, to the 3-4 Okie role he was asked to play for the Packers. He was still able to notch 2.5 sacks, before a knee injury late in the season ended his participation.

Daniels is an undersized, high-energy player whose rookie season was highlighted by a fumble recovery and subsequent 43-yard return for a touchdown, a play that triggered a late-season win over the Lions.

C.J. Wilson remains a top run-stuffer, and 2010 second-round pick Mike Neal, who had suffered through two injury-marred seasons, took a major step in the right direction last season when he contributed 4.5 sacks, second most on the team, and a lot of quality playing time.

To help bolster the competition on the defensive line, the Packers signed Jordan Miller, who spent time with the Bears.

Seven defensive linemen on an offseason roster would seemingly invite additions.

Previous position: Offensive Line

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