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The NFL’s Next Best Pass Rusher That Nobody Is Talking About

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Coming into the 2019 NFL draft Rashan Gary was one of the most hated players coming out of the University of Michigan, for no reason that I can understand personally. Gary’s journey with the Michigan Wolverines was a letdown after he was the number one rated recruit in the 2016 class right out of high school. Gary started all 13 games as a reserve in his freshman season, recording 27 tackles, five sacks, and five tackles for loss.

In 2017, his sophomore year, he earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades with 66 tackles, 12 for loss, including six sacks in 13 appearances, demonstrating his talent. Gary was named to the first team again as a junior after racking up 44 tackles, seven for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 12 games. Gary had the physique at 6 foot 4, 277 pounds who ran at 4.58 40 yard dash and 26 reps on the bench.

Which are absurd numbers for an edge rusher, or interior D-line. Gary has come a very long way since being selected 12th overall in the 2019 NFL draft, by the Green Bay Packers. This left many questioning his NFL potential after an underwhelming college career at Michigan after being the number one rated recruit in the country.

Gary at the NFL

At the NFL level, Gary was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from two experienced pros as a rookie. He had glimpses of talent here and there, but it was evident where he needed to improve. Gary’s lack of counter moves at the point of attack and his bend are two things that he needed to work on. His skill set improved in year two, despite the fact that many believed he should have started over Preston Smith.

With 9.5 sacks in 2021, he fell just shy of the double-digit sack mark, and it was still just enough to top the Packers and earn him a spot in the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Gary benefited from the Za’darius Smith Injury that he suffered in week one vs the Saints in the 2021 season, and was out for the whole season. If Za’darius didn’t get hurt I don’t think we would see a Gary breakout year as we have seen.

Rashan Gary Is on the Rise vs Top 5 Edges in the NFL

Aside from the accomplishments, Gary’s latest season is most notable for the terror he instilled in opposition tackles and quarterbacks. For the majority of the season, Gary wasn’t just good; he was dominant. Gary’s Pro Football Focus rating was 4th among edge rushers at 89.3, 1st in Pressure Rate at 17.5% among edge rushers. TJ Watt, who recently tied Michael Strahan‘s single-season sack record, Nick Bosa, the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Myles Garrett, who will be recognized for the Defensive Player of the Year Award this season, all have fewer than 81 pressures.

With these numbers, there was no Pro Bowl or All-Pro Mentions at all from the media. As a Packers fan myself, when Gary was drafted I didn’t like the pick at all. Now at only 24 years old, it’s beyond time for the people to quit sleeping on him, and start noticing that Rashan Gary is becoming a young star in this league.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – JANUARY 22: Outside linebacker Preston Smith #91 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with outside linebacker Rashan Gary #52 after a sack during the first half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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