GREEN BAY – The Packers doubled up on the defensive line with their second fourth-round draft pick on Saturday.
Green Bay selected Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry with the second of two compensatory selections, No. 137 overall. The 6-6, 296-pounder is the second defensive lineman in the Packers’ first five picks in this draft, joining first-rounder Kenny Clark of UCLA.
“He’s a blue-collar guy, probably an underrated athlete,” said Eliot Wolf, the Packers’ director of football operations. “He lined up all over the line, outside and inside. Just a solid player.”
Lowry’s production was fairly steady each of the last three years for the Wildcats. He peaked with 46 tackles, including 13½ for loss, in 2015. He finished his career with 12½ sacks, recording between three and 4½ each year from 2013-15.
His career game came last season at Nebraska, when he set a school record with six tackles for loss, including two sacks.
“That was just a game I had some good tips on what they were running, and I had the itch factor that day,” Lowry said. “I think I dominated. That’s where I’m trying to get consistently, but I think I showed that game that I’m a very explosive player.”
Wolf sees him as capable of playing the three-technique spot inside or the five-technique on the outside on the line, calling him a “good value pick” at the end of the fourth round. His strength is a plus, having done 30 bench-press reps at 225 pounds at the scouting combine.
“His athleticism and flexibility,” Wolf said of what stands out the most about Lowry, who also agreed with the multi-position assessment. “He’s built low to the ground and he’s a versatile guy who can rush the passer and play the run.”
Lowry slowly but surely developed at Northwestern. Coming in as an undersized freshman, he added 15 to 20 pounds per year through weight-room work and nutrition and was up to 290 last season.
The biggest area he’s targeting for improvement is his pass rush. He wasn’t as productive in the sack department as he felt he should have been as his college career progressed.
He’s been knocked for having short arms for a 6-6 guy, but he believes he proved that’s not a hindrance to his game by going head-to-head with the Big Ten’s biggest offensive tackles. He calls his hands “violent” and “strong.”
“I never had a problem in terms of locking out or shedding,” Lowry said.
He wasn’t necessarily aware of the Packers’ interest in him, but the Rockford, Ill., native won’t have a problem changing allegiances from the Bears and is not complaining his NFL home is close to his boyhood one.
“I knew the Packers were a 3-4 defense, and I mostly heard from 3-4 teams, but I hadn’t really talked to them the past couple months,” Lowry said. “I was a bit surprised but very excited to say the least.”
The addition of Lowry early on Saturday following the selection of Clark on Thursday speaks to the high priority the Packers placed on the defensive line coming into this draft.
“Obviously with B.J. (Raji) retiring, we lost some guys up front,” Wolf said. “It looks like something we addressed as a need, and we’ve been able to fill it so far.”