Tag: Muhammad Wilkerson

Packers Free Agent Target: Muhammad Wilkerson

Should the Packers be aggressive in pursuit of muhammad wilkerson if he becomes a free agent?

 

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By: Mark Prott

The hiring of new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine should bring optimism and excitement to the Packers fan base. While Pettine will not be able to fix everything, with the help of GM Brian Gutekunst, Pettine could put the pieces together to create a formidable defense.

Simply put, the 2018 defense needs more impact players if the Packers are serious about contending for the Super Bowl. Enter Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, still just 28 years old, has shown that he is capable of being one of the most dominating defensive lineman in the game. His 12 sack season in 2015 and 44.5 sacks total over a 7 year career prove he is a force to be reckoned with.

He also likely has played his last game with the Jets. Over the past two seasons Wilkerson’s play has not lived up to his five year, 86 million dollar contract signed in 2016. It’s why the Jets are willing to part ways.

Signing Wilkerson would be not be without risk.  But then again, a certain guy named Charles Woodson was also a big risk signing back in 2006 and we know how that turned out. Wilkerson also would not command nearly as large of a contract as he signed in 2016 on the open market anymore.

The fit with the Packers makes sense on multiple angles.

The Packers with a healthy Aaron Rodgers at the helm are almost a lock for the playoffs next season. And like it or not, it’s human nature that playing on a winning team would probably light a new fire under a player that’s been playing on an awful team the past two years. A change of scenery to a winning organization might be all that is needed for Wilkerson to regain dominating form.

Wilkerson would also be reunited with his old defensive coordinator. Pettine coached Wilkerson with the Jets from 2011-2012 and should know first hand what type of impact the 6’4 305 pound lineman could have in his defense.

“He can be a dominant inside rusher on third down and a dominant defensive end on early downs,” said Pettine in a 2012 interview. Sound like something the Packers’ defense could use? Look no further than what the signing of the 31 year old defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who recorded 14.5 sacks this season, did for the Jacksonville Jaguars defense.

A defensive line including up and coming defensive tackle Kenny Clark, a Pro Bowler in Mike Daniels and Wilkerson would give the Packers a formidable trio in the trenches. Add in a selection of an outside rusher with the 14th pick in the upcoming NFL draft and suddenly the Packers’ pass rush and defense as a whole could become a strength.

Any spectator of the 2017 version of the Packers dreadful defense could legitimately argue that the lack of a consistent pass rush was the most glaring need on defense. Coverage is still important, but great quarterback play can still beat great coverage if given enough time. There is talent in the secondary, but the Packers desperately need a better pass rush.

The Packers decided coverage was their most important need in the 2017 NFL draft. They used their first 2 picks on Kevin King and Josh Jones. Both players have talent and potential, but their play on the field created little improvement over the 2016 defense. The pass rush was not addressed by Ted Thompson last off season. It will be up to his successor,  Gutekunst, who should make it his new number one priority.

The NFL Draft will and should always be the ultimate source of acquiring talent but free agency must be utilized. Gutekunst thankfully agrees. Potential impact players like Wilkerson will hit the open market soon. Then it will be time for the Packers new decision maker to put his words into action.

 

The key to a championship defense: Mike Daniels

 

By: Bill Tewes           

 For Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels, nothing has ever come easy. Ever since being scouted out of high school and even being drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Daniels has had his fair share of naysayers and doubters. Most scouts referenced his height and athleticism as detriments to his ability to make a big impact on the field and that earned him a 2-star rating from rivals.com. So how did an undersized and less than stellar athlete like Daniels land a 4 year, $41-million-dollar contract and possibly end up cementing his legacy as one of Green Bay’s greatest pass rushers?

 The answer lies in Daniels’ drive and determination. Daniels’ fierce nature and unshakeable will has propelled him into the upper echelon of NFL pass rushers. Even though he does not have the size or flashy numbers as say a Muhammad Wilkerson or J.J. Watt, Daniels is still a force to be reckoned with on every snap. In an interview with PackersNews writer Wes Hodkiewicz, Daniels stated: “”If I’m not going to be physically bigger than the guy who’s 350, then I’m going to play bigger than him. If I’m not going to be physically bigger than the guy who’s 6-4, then I’m going to play bigger than him. That’s just my mentality. I’m just going to keep bringing it.”

Daniels compared to wilkerson

Take a look at this chart that was generated by Pro Football Focus regarding 2015’s best 3-4 pass rushers. Daniels graded out as the 4th ranked pass rusher and was right behind Muhammad Wilkerson, who is still waiting for the ink to dry on a freshly signed five-year, $86-million-dollar contract extension to remain with the New York Jets. Daniels most definitely could have got more on the open market, but chose to stay with Green Bay, a team that studied his skillset extensively and utilizes his motor to maximum capacity. It is clear that Daniels values playing for a Super Bowl caliber team over leaving for a bigger pay day.

 In comparing the two players, it is quite evident that Green Bay is really getting a massive deal with Daniels signing for $10.25 million per year. It might come as a shock to some, but Daniels’ pass rush efficiency nearly matches Wilkerson’s, even with Wilkerson rushing the passer at a higher rate (347 snaps to Daniels 234). Also consider Green Bay’s defensive line is nowhere near the caliber of New York’s’ with Sheldon Richardson and soon to be star Leonard Williams in the trenches with Wilkerson. 

Wilkerson’s 11.5 point pass rush productivity is only half a point higher than Daniels (11) and their percentage of total pressures to snaps is nearly identical (14.7% to 14.1%). If Daniels was afforded the role that Wilkerson has with the Jets, it would not be out of the question to see similar statistical productivity in the sack and tackle column.

It would also come as no surprise to see Daniels turn in the best year of his career with the pressure of contract negotiations off the table as well as a new look Packers defense. The Packers added key pieces through the draft in Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez who will look to make a significant impact this year as rookies. Clark will offer fresh legs in the middle and having a consistently solid player like Letroy Guion for another year will allow Green Bay to utilize Daniels all over the line.

I would expect Daniels to take a firm leadership role as he has already been a vocal locker-room guy and is definitely the teams’ de facto defensive captain (Packers use weekly captains as opposed to full time captains). Daniels will continue to work with young players such as Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry (also a 4th round pick) and hopefully instill in them the work ethic and determination that has made him into the key piece to what could become a championship caliber defense this year.