Scouting Report: Dean Lowry Grew Up A Bears Fan

You can’t teach size, and you can’t teach hustle. It’s a good thing Packers’ rookie defensive end Dean Lowry has both in spades.

Only fellow defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Chris Jones compared physically to Lowry at the combine. The 49ers selected Buckner seventh overall; Jones went 37th overall to the Chiefs.

Dean Lowry's value is more than just his size. Many praised his intangibles before the draft:

  • “Coaches praise his work ethic and team­-first mentality.” - Mark Dulgerian,
  • “At worst, he will be a high-motor player who can serve as a backup at any D-line spot.” - Chris Burke,
  • “He will do whatever it takes to be successful and is willing to play different positions.” - Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

Green Bay drafted Lowry more than one hundred selections after Buckner and Jones. It’s possible Ted Thompson has found another gem in the middle rounds.

His fatal flaw – he grew up a Bears fan

Dean Lowry (#94) grew up in Rockford, Ill. and attended Northwestern University.

Dean Lowry (#94) grew up in Rockford, Ill. and attended Northwestern University.

Lowry grew up in Rockford, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago off Interstate 90. He played defensive end at Boylan High School and led the Titans to consecutive state championships. Rockford is nestled between Chicago and the Wisconsin border, making it the epicenter of the NFL’s most historic rivalry.

Scouts have criticized Lowry’s short arms and pedigree as a two-star high school recruit. But Packers fans will in particular find a more devastating flaw: he grew up a Bears fan.

“I was more of a Bears fan growing up,” Lowry told reporters after his selection by Green Bay on draft day.

Many Packers fans believe converting to the green and gold is as easy as visiting Lambeau Field. If that's you, then Dean Lowry is your new spokesperson. By the rookie minicamp a week after the draft, the defensive end had reversed his tone.

“I wasn’t a huge Bears fan,” Lowry said, “but I’ve always admired the Packers and just the way those guys play. But we’re [his family] all green and gold now, and I was green and gold in high school.”

Dean Lowry is not Aaron Kampman

Dean Lowry adds significant size to the Packers defensive line at 6-6, 296 pounds.

Dean Lowry adds significant size to the Packers defensive line at 6-6, 296 pounds.

In our profile of Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez, we made the case that Martinez is not A.J. Hawk. Fans may also be quick to compare Dean Lowry to a former Packers lineman from the Big Ten – Aaron Kampman.

Dean Lowry does share some coincidental similarities with the eight-year Packers veteran Kampman. Both contributed during their true freshmen campaigns. Both are tall (6-6 and 6-3, respectively) but relatively light for ends (296 to 286). But the similarities end in playing style. Lowry is decidedly a prototypical 3-4 defensive end; Kampman fits the bill of a traditional 4-3 pass rusher.

The numbers highlight this difference. It’s easy to view his measurables and label Lowry as a high-motor sack artist. Lowry’s game does not revolve around the sack. Kampman lead the Big Ten with nine sacks in his senior season alone. Lowry finished his four-year collegiate career with twelve and a half sacks.

Instead, Lowry’s 6-6 frame disrupts the quarterback differently: through pass deflections. Over his final three seasons at Northwestern, he deflected 17 passes and intercepted three.

How Lowry fits in with the Packers defensive line

Green Bay famously adheres to the “best player available” philosophy in the NFL Draft. Dean Lowry also happens to also fit a dire positional need for the Packers.

The Packers open 2016 without two of their linemen from last season. B.J. Raji’s surprising retirement and Mike Pennel’s four-game suspension will create  plenty of opportunities.

Lowry joins a long list of young linemen hoping to take advantage of those opportunities, including 2016 first round selection Kenny Clark and 2015 sixth round selection Christian Ringo. Undrafted free agents Demetris Anderson, Tyler Kuder, B.J. McBryde and Brian Price figure to have an opportunity to make the 53-man squad or practice squad.

Even a passing look at game film demonstrates a skill set in Lowry that is undoubtedly attractive to the Packers. Though his arm length can allow him to be swallowed up by bigger blockers, Lowry can effectively hold the edge against a defense, as he demonstrates in this play against Ball State.

Lowry’s skills against the pass are also of note, and this is a great example. He realizes he can’t make it to the quarterback, so he stops and reads the quarterback’s eyes, leaping to deflect the pass at exactly the right moment.

Though he may be a little light for this job, Lowry can also rush from the tackle position on passing downs. Here, he pushes the pocket and may contribute to an incompletion.

He does have holes in his game, to be sure, but Lowry should be set to contribute for the Packers from day one. His size and diverse skill set will have him pushing for playing time early in the season.