The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp next week. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the Packers as they begin preparation for the 2022 season.
Today we look at the offensive line. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here and for running backs, click here. The wide receivers can be found here and the tight ends here. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.
- David Bakhtiari
The Packers are eager to get Bakhtiari back in the lineup. The former All Pro left tackle only played the first half of last year’s regular season finale after suffering a knee injury in practice before the final game of the 2020 campaign.
Before his injury, Bakhtiari was widely considered the premier pass blocking left tackle in the league. Getting him back in the lineup and back to form would be a big boost the Packers and would help them protect Aaron Rodgers’ blind side.
- Elgton Jenkins
Jenkins was injured last November against the Vikings and is unlikely to be ready to start the season. Depending on how long his rehab is expected to take, he may be a candidate to start the season on the PUP list.
Jenkins earned Pro Bowl honors at guard in 2020, then shifted to left tackle when Bakhtiari was injured last season. He can play all five positions along the line at a high level.
When he’s healthy and ready to play, the coaching staff will likely insert Jenkins into the spot where he is most needed although many expect that to be left tackle if Bakhtiari isn’t playing and right tackle if Bakhtiari is back, but he could fill in anywhere that’s needed.
Getting both Bakhtiari and Jenkins back would be adding two Pro Bowl linemen the Packers didn’t have in last year’s playoffs.
- Jon Runyan Jr.
Runyan took over as the starter at left guard last season and did a solid job. According to Pro Football Focus, Runyan allowed only two sacks all season. He graded out as a better pass blocker than run blocker.
The coaching staff likes the Michigan alum’s work ethic and football intelligence. He is the favorite to start at left guard again in 2022.
- Josh Myers
Myers was off to a solid start last season before injuries interrupted his rookie season. He managed to come back for the final regular season game and the playoffs.
Like Runyan, Myers graded out as a better pass blocker than run blocker. The Packers are hoping that he makes a jump in his second season and solidifies his hold as the Packers starting center for the foreseeable future.
- Royce Newman
Newman started at right guard as a rookie but struggled to make adjustments to stunts and blitzes. The former Mississippi star did improve as the season went on but he was considered the weak link in the offensive line for most of the season.
Newman will have competition at right guard from Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan as possibly from Jenkins when he’s healthy so he needs to show he has a better handle on blitz pickups if he hopes to return to the starting lineup.
- Yosh Nijman
Nijman filled in at left tackle for two stints when Bakhtiari and Jenkins were injured. He exceeded expectations overall although he did get help from tight ends and running backs protecting the blindside of his quarterback at times.
The coaching staff chose not to start Nijman in the playoff game against San Francisco and it cost the team because the offensive line struggled throughout the game.
Nijman will be in a battle for the right tackle spot if Bakhtiari is able to play and may be the left tackle if Bakhtiari still isn’t back from injury. His career is presently at a crossroads.
- Sean Rhyan
The Packers third-round pick in this year’s draft played tackle at UCLA but is expected to move to guard in the NFL because of his shorter arms and physical stature. He may also get a look at right tackle.
Rhyan’s versatility and his experience in a pro-style offense in college may help him and the Packers have had success in recent years developing mid-round draft picks on the offensive line.
- Zach Tom
Tom was selected in the fourth round this year’s draft and like Jenkins can play any position along the line. The former Wake Forest star played left tackle and center in college but will likely primarily be used as all three interior positions a long the offensive line in training camp.
The Packers like Tom’s versatility, toughness and intelligence.
- Cole Van Lanen
Van Lanen played one snap on offense as a rookie. He can play both tackle and guard but is expected to primarily see time at right tackle.
- Rasheed Walker
The seventh round pick out of Penn State was once a highly regarded player who saw his draft stock fall after a disappointing final year of college ball. Walker started at left tackle in college and has all the physical tools you look for but needs to improve his consistency and technique. He may be a strong candidate for the practice squad unless he can contribute on special teams.
- Caleb Jones
Jones is a curiosity at 6’9” and 370 pounds. The Indiana alum can move despite his big size and will compete for a spot at tackle as an undrafted rookie free agent.
- George Moore
Moore can play both tackle and guard so he has the versatility the coaching staff likes. In college, he played both positions on the left side. The undrafted free agent out of Oregon has a tough climb to make the roster.
- Jake Hanson
Hanson is primarily a center but could also play guard. He is entering his third NFL season and is hoping to take over Lucas Patrick’s role as the swing interior offensive lineman. He saw very limited action last season, playing six snaps on offense and 13 on special teams in five games.
- Cole Schneider
Like Hanson, Schneider can play any of the three interior positions along the offensive line. The undrafted rookie out of Central Florida started 46 games at guard in college.
- Michal Menet
The former Penn State star finished last season on the Packers practice squad. He is a center who can also fill in at guard. His physical style of play and toughness are assets he can rely on.
Three Key Questions
- Will Bakhtiari Be Ready to Play and Return to Form?
The Packers were waiting for Bakhtiari to return last season and the date kept being pushed back until we reached the final game of the 2021 season. Bakhtiari played the first half of the game in Detroit but was not able to go after that and missed the playoff game.
The Packers offensive line takes a big step forward if Bakhtiari returns and plays even close to his prior All Pro level. If not, there will be a scramble to fill the two tackle positions especially before Jenkins returns to the lineup.
If Bakhtiari is not ready to play, questions about whether he’ll be able to resume his career will start to surface. It will be a big addition to the offensive line if Bakhtiari can return.
- Where Will Jenkins Play When He Returns?
Getting Elgton Jenkins back is another big milestone for the Packers offensive line. Jenkins is a Pro Bowl caliber player who can play anywhere along the line.
It is expected Jenkins fills in where the need is greatest at midseason when he’s expected to be healthy enough to return.
Most people expect Jenkins to be at right tackle but if Bakhtiari is still out, he could move to left tackle and if there are significant problems inside, he could return to guard.
Jenkins’ return will be a litmus test for how the other starters are playing and should provide the offense with another boost midseason.
- Who Starts at Right Guard and Right Tackle?
The Packers are set at almost every position when it comes to starters but the right side of the offensive line remain up for grabs. Who will start at right guard and right tackle? While Runyan is the favorite at left guard, he is not a lock to earn that position.
The offensive line will feature the biggest battles of training camp and it remains to be seen how quickly the rookies will be ready to play and who emerges as the starters.
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