The Green Bay Packers have been looking for answers to rush the passer without their star player Rashan Gary, and general manager Brian Gutekunst is taking a chance on an incredibly athletic linebacker off of waivers.
It’s been tough sledding for Green Bay’s defense after Gary suffered a torn ACL that ended his season against the Detroit Lions. The Packers have had very few pass-rushing options since the injury outside of Preston Smith and rookie Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare, with virtually no depth behind those two at outside linebacker.
However, the Packers have finally made a move to try and add a bit of depth to the position. NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport tweeted that the Packers had claimed former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Justin Hollins off of waivers on Wednesday, November 23.
At 4-7, the Packers may be out of the playoff race, but the front office and coaching staff is doing its best to bring in young players and evaluate them so they can considering bringing them back in 2023 and beyond.
Can Justin Hollins Stick in Green Bay?
Even though he hasn’t been able to stick with a team in the NFL yet, Hollins’ athleticism and production could make him a legitimate future depth piece at outside linebacker for the Packers if he can prove himself in the coming weeks.
Hollins wasn’t the biggest recruit coming out of Arlington, Texas. He was a 3-star recruit but still managed to receive a handful of FBS offers from programs including Baylor, Illinois, and Oklahoma.
The young linebacker decided to move to the pacific northwest to play for the Oregon Ducks, where he became a key part of their defense. During his career, Hollins played in 52 games while racking up 184 total tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 11 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
Coming in at 6’5″ and 248 pounds, Hollins was taken in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. His athleticism helped him stand out, posting a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.68 out of 10 with an impressive 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds.
Unfortunately, Hollins was waived after just one season with the team before hopping on with the Rams, where he had played the last three seasons. His production has been modest, but he’s still been able to record seven sacks and three forced fumbles during his career.
Given the depth at outside linebacker in Green Bay, Hollins should be able to get some pass-rushing production based off of playing time alone over the coming weeks.
Don’t Sleep on JJ Enagbare
The Packers might have hit on a few of their picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are getting a ton of attention at wide receiver, another rookie in JJ Enagbare is starting to generate some buzz as well.
Enagbare was a fifth-round pick out of South Carolina who was expected to play sparingly behind Gary and Smith. However, with Gary’s injury against the Lions, the rookie has been forced into the starting lineup.
The rookie linebacker is holding his own so far. Through 11 games, Enagabre has racked up 17 total tackles and a pair of sacks, while flashing at times as a pass rusher and pressuring the opposing QB into hurried throws.
If Enagbare and Hollins can develop, then the Packers could have a great second unit of pass rushers behind Gary and Smith in 2023.