GREEN BAY — Even with an offensive-minded head coach and a two-time NFL MVP quarterback closer to the end of the line than the beginning, the Green Bay Packers went defense with the first of their two first-round picks Thursday night, taking Michigan defensive end/edge rusher Rashan Gary at No. 12 overall.
The 6-foot-5, 281-pound Gary, who turns 22 in December, entered Michigan as one of the highest-rated high-school recruits in the nation but didn’t have massive production.
He played in just nine games last season and finished the year with just 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 45 overall tackles for the Wolverines.
Gary said he had “minimal” contact with the Packers in the run-up to the draft. “But I’m damn happy to be a Packer.”
Gary was a hand-on-the-ground defensive end for the Wolverines, but Packers college scout Joe Hueber, who covers the Midwest, said Gary will start out at outside linebacker in Green Bay but will move around in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme.
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“To be honest, I’m just happy to be a Green Bay Packer. I can’t wait to get to work,” Gary said in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters following the pick. “My work is yet to be finished. I just got my foot in the door.”
Gary played with a right shoulder injury last season but said that it will not require surgery.
“My shoulder is 110 percent,” Gary said. “I can’t wait to strap on the pads and get ready.”