It’s safe to say at least one person on the Green Bay Packers badly missed Cullen Jenkins last season.
A source said that outside linebacker Clay Matthews texted Jenkins a couple times last year lamenting that his drop in sack totals was directly attributable to Jenkins’ absence on the defensive line.
For a player who missed his share of snaps because of injuries while he was with the Packers, Jenkins’ departure to Philadelphia in free agency last summer showed how much difference a good inside pass rusher can make for his teammates. Though Jenkins wasn’t the only reason the Packers dropped from No. 5 in passing yards allowed and No. 3 in sacks percentage in 2010 to last in the NFL in both categories last season, it was a big one.
Anyone who follows the Packers knows that General Manager Ted Thompson’s top mission in this draft is to find a pass rusher, whether it’s a defensive lineman or an outside linebacker, who can help the Packers’ defense return to its 2010 level of play, when Matthews had a career-high 13½ sacks. Last year, he had only six.
Thompson figures to use a high draft pick on the defensive line regardless, possibly with his first pick, at No. 28 overall. With B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, the Packers have two good run stoppers, and Raji has been effective as one of their two inside rushers on passing downs. But after that they need help.