Packers 2017 Recap: OLB Chris Odom
Claimed on waivers from Atlanta days before the start of the regular season, Chris Odom completed his first season in the NFL as barely a blip on the radar.
- Appeared in seven games with no starts (59 snaps on defense, 13 on special teams)
- Three solo tackles, three assists
Expectations going into the season: Low
Expectations were: Not Met
Analysis: Odom’s rookie year a disappointment, but caveats abound
In a way, Chris Odom ended up on the Packers’ roster as a direct alternative to a player who would end up outshining him in limited playing time.
Claimed on waivers after the final weekend of roster cuts, Odom took a roster spot from Reggie Gilbert, a former college defensive end two years into the same transition to outside linebacker Odom himself was making.
The final stats make it tough to argue in favor of that decision. Odom barely managed to get on the field and didn’t produce when he did, while Gilbert, who had to wait until the very end of the season to get a shot, put up noteworthy performances from the moment he made it to the 53 man roster.
But the circumstances make it tough to be too hard on Odom. Like Gilbert, Odom was a traditional defensive end in college, and a very good one at that.
The Pro Football Focus data pegged Odom as one of the elite pass rushers in his draft class, regardless of position. But at 6-4 and weighing around 260 pounds (give or take), Odom isn’t cut out to play the same traditional end spot he did in college. He had to make the change.
As we’ve seen from Gilbert, it takes some time to make that switch, but if the Packers wanted Odom, time wasn’t an option. The Falcons cut Odom with eyes on bringing him back on their practice squad, and given his heartfelt farewell to Atlanta upon his release, there’s little reason to think he’d have tested the water elsewhere. The Packers had a clear choice: put Odom on their active roster or let him stay in Atlanta. They picked the former.
As a result, Odom didn’t have the luxury to make his transition to a new position out of the public eye, as Gilbert did. He had to learn to be a stand-up pass rusher on the fly, and the results were… not pretty. Often Odom was inactive, and he barely moved the needle when he was on the field.
But whether or not Odom belonged on the roster isn’t a question that bears on the evaluation of his performance. He can’t control what the Packers did, and it’s hard to fault him for being forced to play a new position before he was fully ready. The merits of the Packers’ personnel decisions are an entirely different discussion.
What’s important, though, is the context in which we evaluate Odom. Even if they don’t change our ultimate conclusion, the circumstances of his arrival and performance in Green Bay are interesting and worth remembering as Odom continues his NFL journey.