The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL draft.
Rashan Gary and Preston Smith give the Green Bay Packers a formidable pass-rushing duo. Those two combined for 18.5 sacks last season and could see that number increase with Gary entering his fourth year and fully primed to become one of the most dynamic edge rushers in the NFL.
With those two in place, the Packers have the best pass-rushing duo in the NFC North. However, the depth behind those two is severely lacking.
The 2022 NFL draft will give Brian Gutekunst an ample the opportunity to restock the talent at the position behind his two starters.
A player that Green Bay’s general manager could target late on day three of the draft is Carson Wells. The Colorado edge rusher checks in at No. 20 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
A three-star recruit out of Florida, Wells finished his career in Boulder as a 34-game starter. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Wells recorded six tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. In 10 games the following season, Wells recorded 57 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 only played six games in 2020. Yet, Wells led the FBS with 14 tackles for loss. This past season Wells recorded 62 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Over the past two seasons, Wells was a disruptive force off the edge for the Buffs. The 34-game starter recorded 29 tackles for loss during his final two seasons on campus. Devin Lloyd is the only player in the Pac-12 to record more (32) during that span.
“Some things that helped me out with that was my preparation during the week but also my first step off the ball,” Wells said in an interview with Packers Wire. “If I can get my cleats in the ground moving forward before the lineman gets his moving backwards that puts me at a tremendous advantage right out of the gate. From there it just comes down to playing hard within the scheme. If the ball comes my way, try to set the edge in the backfield and get off the block. If the ball goes away from me I’m still able to chase the ball carrier down from the backside of the play. Those plays are all effort.”
Wells is an outstanding athlete. He’s explosive off the snap. With his athleticism, Wells was one of the biggest combine snubs. At Colorado’s pro day, Wells put on a show, clocking a 40-time of 4.59 and a 10-yard split of 1.62.
That athleticism is a big reason why Wells was listed on Bruce Feldman’s Annual Freak’s list for the 2021 season.
One of the better-kept secrets in the Pac-12, Wells had 16 TFLs, 6.5 sacks and 40 tackles in just six games in 2020. The 6-3 1/2, 250-pounder grew up on a cattle ranch in Florida and was valedictorian of his high school. He also ran a 11.3 100 meter and threw the shot and discus. He’s blossomed into a force explosive coming off the edge in Boulder thanks to some pretty specialness. He’s hit 20.8 MPH on the GPS, has broad jumped 9-7, vertical jumped 32.5-inches and squats 535.
Carson Wells just letting the quarterback know he’s there. pic.twitter.com/gQv5hLR5ft
— Brennen Rupp (@Brennen_Rupp) April 8, 2022
Wells has the first step quickness to get up field and win the corner with his juice. He has good lower body flexibility and bend to threaten the corner.
“My coach, Brian Michalowski, had a lot to do with helping me with this,” Wells said. “We would sit down at the beginning of the week and break down the tackles and what they did well and what they didn’t do well. We would try to attack their weaknesses with different footwork, moves, and rush plans. Throughout the week we would have specific drills to focus on these to help the game on Saturday become more fluid. We would also study quarterback escape routes. Some like to step up and out while some will roll out. If you know where they like to go with pressure on them it makes it that much easier to get to them.”
Wells does a good job of setting the edge. As mentioned above he has a knack for making splash plays (29 tackles for loss the last two seasons) by bursting through gaps. Wells is a high motor player. He gives great effort on each snap. He shows great hustle to chase down plays from the backside. The 34-game starter has a high football IQ and won’t take himself out of plays against the run. He shows an understanding of how to create leverage against the run.
“I would say that my greatest strength is my ability to know what is coming before it happens,” Wells said. “Through film study, practice, and preparation an offense will give you a lot of tendencies to key on throughout the game. If you can stay focused on the little details before each play like down and distance, formation, and back sets it will often let you know the big picture.”
Wells saw action on special teams during his redshirt freshman season. As he became a full-time starter he saw fewer reps in that phase of the game. The quickest way for a rookie to make an impact is on special teams. Wells believes with his speed and body type he could be an instant contributor on coverage units during his rookie season.
“Early in my college career I played almost every team and as I began to play more time on defense my coaches weaned me off of teams,” Wells said. “I would still rep them all in camp and throughout the season in practice in case of any injuries. I ended up playing on the punt team the last game this year with two tackles. I feel like I can contribute on every special teams. All the special teams typically need body types like mine running down the field and being able to block or tackle and I feel like I’m able to do both of these well.”
Fit with the Packers
Wells would provide quality depth on the edge behind Gary and Smith. He has the first-step quickness to serve as a designated pass rusher as a rookie. However, the biggest impact he’d provide in year-one is on special teams.
“I believe that an NFL team should draft me because I am smart, instinctive, tough, and a hardworking individual,” Wells said. “I am the type of player that will come in and compete wherever they need me most. I think my best attribute is that I am a football player and hopefully I just get a chance to show that.”
With his athleticism and his knack for making plays in the backfield, Wells is worth a look on the third day of the draft.