Big Training Camp Battles: Outside Linebackers
GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, the Green Bay Packers have one of the top edge-rushing duos in the NFL. If last year’s first-round pick, Rashan Gary, pans out, the Packers might have the best trio in the league, a group capable of sacking quarterbacks and changing games.
The battles will be at the end of the depth chart. Those shouldn’t be taken lightly. Last year, for instance, Gary averaged more than 15 snaps per game as the No. 4 outside linebacker. That’s right about in line with the No. 4 outside linebackers in Baltimore, Chicago and Denver, as well. So, there’s playing time to be had, especially with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine looking to lessen the substantial workloads of the Smith Bros.
Tim Williams, Randy Ramsey and Greg Roberts are the returning players. Combined, they contributed absolutely nothing on Sundays. The Ravens drafted Williams in the third round in 2017 but dumped him early last year. The Packers claimed him on waivers. He played in only one game – a mere two snaps on special teams – and was released a month later. He finished the season on the practice squad.
“He’s a guy that’s going to scare a lot of quarterbacks around this league,” Za’Darius Smith said upon Williams joining the team.
He hasn’t scared any quarterbacks thus far. In 20 career games, he has only two sacks. However, during his final two seasons at Alabama, he had 19.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for losses as mostly a pass-rush specialist.
Williams’ two snaps on special teams were two more snaps than Ramsey and Roberts, undrafted free agents last year from Arkansas and Baylor, respectively.
Ramsey spent all of his rookie season on the practice squad. After being dismissed from Arkansas and not playing in 2015 due to academic issues, he recorded 7.5 sacks and 16 tackles for losses in four seasons. That includes career highs of three sacks and six TFLs as a senior in 2018. He has the speed to beat offensive tackles around the corner.
How much did the Packers like Roberts last year? They took the unusual step of guaranteeing $70,000 of his base salary. Unfortunately for Roberts, he had core-muscle surgery in the spring and spent the season on the physically unable to perform list before finally hitting the practice field for the first time before the Week 16 game against Minnesota. Now, he’s on the COVID-19 reserve list. He is the son of Greg Roberts Sr., a 42-game starter for Tampa Bay on the offensive line.
The three rookie additions are seventh-round pick Jonathan Garvin and undrafted free agents Tipa Galeai and Delontae Scott.
Garvin, who turned 21 a couple weeks ago, had a breakout sophomore season at Miami in 2018 with 5.5 sacks and 17 tackles for losses among his 60 stops. In 2019, he had five sacks and nine TFLs as he wound up playing second fiddle to Gregory Rousseau, the freshman who earned All-American honors with 15.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs.
“I think you’ve got a guy with length, you’ve got a guy that can burst on the takeoff and also is a technician, as well,” said Todd Stroud, the Hurricanes’ assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
Galeai and Scott pocketed $7,000 signing bonuses. Galeai spent his first two seasons at TCU before he was arrested and subsequently transferred to Utah State. After sitting out the 2017 season, Galeai recorded 10.5 sacks, 14 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles as a junior and five sacks and nine tackles for losses as a senior. As a senior at SMU, Scott earned second-team all-conference honors after posting 10 sacks, 18 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles.
Final roster prediction (5)
In: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Tim Williams, Jonathan Garvin.
Out: Randy Ramsey, Greg Roberts, Tipa Galeai, Delontae Scott.