Packers Meeting With First-Round Pass Rusher

The Green Bay Packers have some options with the 25th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and they’re even doing their homework on potential pass rushers like Marshawn Kneeland out of Western Michigan.

Kneeland has had one of the busies pre-draft schedules of any prospect. According to Mike Garafolo with NFL Network, he’s planning on meeting with 16 teams. Ian Rapoport posted on April 15 that Kneeland had a scheduled meeting planned with the Packers as one of those teams.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic‘s NFL draft analyst, expects Kneeland to be a surprise first-round pick. If that’s the case, then the Packers could make sense as a landing spot with them picking so late in the first round.

Marshawn Kneeland Scouting Report

He doesn’t have a Power Five background, but Kneeland’s tape is turning plenty of heads ahead of the draft.

Kneeland was an unknown commodity coming out of high school. He was only a 2-star recruit coming out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He only had a handful of offers, but Western Michigan saw enough to offer him a scholarship.

After five seasons with the Broncos, Kneeland is finally going pro. He leaves Western Michigan as a second-team All-MAC selection with 28 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles over his career.

While the production isn’t eye-popping, Kneeland’s tape is. He has very good play strength that allows him to hold his own at the point of attack, even when getting caught off guard by pullers and H-backs. He has a constant motor that allows him to make plays everywhere, even in backside pursuit.

There are some technical aspects that Kneeland needs to improve. His hand usage and pad level are too inconsistent, and he can often be the last player off of the snap. However, his play strength and effort could help him develop into a legitimate contributor in the NFL.

The Packers Need Help at EDGE

Even if it’s not the most pressing need, the Packers need some depth at EDGE in 2024.

Kingsley Enagbare had emerged as a legitimate rotational player for the Packers the last couple seasons. He’ll likely miss the majority of 2024, however, after suffering a torn ACL in the playoffs.

That injury opens up a short-term need, but Preston Smith’s future also emphasizes a long-term one. Smith will turn 32 years old in November, and could be a cap casualty after this season as the Packers look to get out of his $52 million contract extension.

The Packers also need to start looking at different body types at EDGE. New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley will be bringing a 4-3 base defense to Green Bay. While that won’t be a huge change schematically, it will require players more comfortable playing from different alignments when they’re playing in their base scheme.

Smith, Rashan Gary, and Lukas Van Ness will be a solid three-player rotation in 2024. However, adding a fourth EDGE while Enagbare gets healthy will give the Packers some important depth at the position.

Kneeland may not be the pick at 25, but the Packers seem to be doing their homework on the position ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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