NFL draft: Packers take a chance, pick Michigan DL Rashan Gary despite injury issues

We didn’t know how far Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary might fall amid concerns about his shoulder.

As it turned out, he didn’t fall far at all.

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Gary went off the board with the No. 12 overall pick. The Packers passed on help for Aaron Rodgers and took a bit of a risk. A report this week by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Gary has a torn labrum in his shoulder, and while most teams believed he could play through it this year, he might need surgery after the season.

The shoulder isn’t the only question surrounding Gary and what seems to be untapped potential.

Rashan Gary was a top recruit

Rashan Gary was the top player in the 2016 recruiting class coming out of high school, according to most recruiting rankings. It was easy to understand why. He’s a 6-4, 277-pound force whose versatility along the line should have made him a dominator.

But he was rarely dominant at Michigan. Gary wasn’t a bad player, but he never seemed to quite live up to that recruiting ranking. In nine games last season, he had 44 tackles (7.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks.

He’s clearly a legit NFL prospect, but you’d expect a little more production from a player going 12th overall. But the shoulder injury was an issue last season. He missed games due to the injury, and his mother had to publicly say he wasn’t sitting out just to protect his draft stock.

Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary was selected by the Packers in the first round. (AP)
Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary was selected by the Packers in the first round. (AP)

Gary’s shoulder will be watched

It’s hard to play defensive line in the NFL period, and even tougher with some shoulder issues. Gary’s injury might need to be managed, perhaps with a harness, according to Rapoport’s report earlier this week. It’ll be something worth watching all season, and it is a risk for Green Bay.

The Packers have invested in their defense this offseason, mostly deciding to get edge players like Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. They also signed safety Adrian Amos. The defensive trend continued with the Packers staying put and taking the talented but mercurial Gary with the 12th pick.

Now, the Packers have to hope Gary’s shoulder holds up.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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