After being one of the more hotly-debated draft picks in the 2019 draft, Rashan Gary is eligible for his second NFL contract. Considering the progress he has made in each of his three seasons with the Packers, he could be in line for a more substantial raise than many would have thought when he entered the league.
The 24-year-old spent three years at Michigan, after being one of the top recruits in the country. That led to significant expectations, but Gary didn’t put up the production many other top edge rushers were able to in his draft class in particular. His sophomore season was his best, as he totalled 58 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks. Overall, he recorded less than 10 sacks during his time in Ann Arbor.
That represented a major red flag for many in the build-up to the draft. PFF rated him much lower than many of the other pass rushers in the class, including his Michigan teammate Chase Winovich. Still, Gary represented a rare combination of size (six-foot-five, 280 pounds) and athleticism which kept him on the first-round radar. It didn’t come as a shock, therefore, when the Packers drafted him with the No. 12 pick.
That made Gary the fourth edge rusher taken off the board, taken behind the likes of Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. He heard his name called earlier than other, more accomplished college sack artists like Brian Burns and Montez Sweat, however, meaning that he was once again entering the next chapter of his football career with significant expectations. The early portion of his NFL tenure didn’t put concerns about his high draft stock at ease.
As a rookie, Gary appeared in all 16 contests, but he didn’t register any starts. Seeing the field for just one-fourth of the team’s defensive snaps, he totalled 21 tackles and a pair of sacks.