Green Bay Packers

Kingsley Enagbare Can Help Green Bay's Short- and Long-Term Plans

Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers entered the draft with four top-60 picks, and the expectation was that they would use at least one of them to select an edge defender. A rookie edge rusher would give the team some depth behind Rashan Gary and Preston Smith after Za’Darius Smith became a cap casualty.

Green Bay’s trade-up to get Christian Watson limited that flexibility. However, the Packers ended up getting an edge defender on Day 3, one that most people had thought would be selected much earlier: South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare.

Enagbare isn’t the most athletic player. In fact, he has one of the lowest Relative Athletic Scores (6.26) among the players selected by Green Bay this year. But the worst part of his athletic profile is the change-of-direction drills, which doesn’t necessarily translate into edge-rusher production.

According to PFF, Enagbare had a 26% pass-rush win rate in 2021, 93rd percentile. He was ahead of defenders drafted much earlier like Travon Walker, Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, George Karlaftis, and Arnold Ebiketie.

“He’s a guy who still needs to work on how he gets there,” said Patrick Moore, Packers assistant director of college scouting, “but he can bend, he’s powerful, he’s got a thick lower body.”

“They did a good job of singling him up. Just really a power guy who can straight-arm guys. You saw at the Senior Bowl he ran right through the tight end that got drafted earlier. Really power is his game, but he can bend and get around the corner.”

Technique

Even though Enagbare enters the NFL as a  fifth-rounder, he is more polished than the normal edge rusher picked that low. It’s highlighted by his pass-rush win rate against good competition. The tape shows he has good hand usage and can fight against tackles even when he doesn’t do the initial contact.

The work Enagbare does with his hands caught the attention of NFL Network’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein, who said Enagbare “punches with good knockback pop” and mentioned he has a “powerful slap to flip and clear blocker’s edge at the point of attack.”

Alignment versatility

One of the most significant factors needed to replace Za’Darius Smith at some level is the ability to play multiple positions in the defensive line. The Packers frequently used Smith as an interior D-lineman on passing downs, while Gary and Preston could play on the edge. Enagbare is physical and skilled enough to do that.

Zierlein even mentioned that “he has played heavier in the past and teams might ask him to pack the pounds back on in order to compete as a run-defending interior lineman in an odd or even front.”

The Packers shouldn’t kick Enagbare inside full-time, but it will be important to take advantage of his versatility.

Run stop

Since we’re talking about Za’Darius Smith, the current Vikings defender was a liability in the run game – something the San Francisco 49ers took advantage of during the 2019 NFC Championship. Enagbare might not be impactful as a pass rusher, but he is a solid run defender from multiple alignments.

That’s imperative to play in Joe Barry’s system, which uses lighter boxes and demands competence from the defensive line to not overload the second level of the defense. It’s one of the reasons why the Packers opted to keep Preston over Za’Darius Smith.

Pad level

Enagbare is not highly athletic and has relatively limited moves to win as a rusher. But he knows how to explore what he does best. For example, his ability to play low to bend the edge makes it extremely hard for tackles to stop him, especially considering how powerful he is.

Athleticism certainly is a legitimate concern with Enagbare, and the Packers have historically favored athletic players. That’s why Green Bay didn’t draft Enagbare before the fifth round and even traded back from 171 to 179 before being comfortable taking him. But considering the investment was so inexpensive, Enagbare fits perfectly into what the Packers need: a solid, explosive rotational player with some potential to become a starter in two years.

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