Green Bay Packers left tackle Rasheed Walker made remarkable progress in 2023, his second NFL season. He went from a little used, seventh-round draft pick to a full-time starter at left tackle, traditionally the most important position along the offensive line. But this offseason, GM Brian Gutekunst selected Jordan Morgan, another offensive tackle, in the first round of the draft. Walker is now ready to fight to keep his starting job in 2024.

Packers OT Rasheed Walker Ready to Fight to Keep Starting Job: The Road to Starting

The road to becoming an NFL starter wasn’t an easy one for Walker. Before his final season in college, the Penn State alum was ranked as a potential first round pick. Unfortunately, his play fell off dramatically and his draft stock fell with it. The Packers chose Walker in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

As a rookie, Walker played in only one game and only four snaps. All of them came on special teams.

In his second season, Walker showed progress in training camp. He looked ready to play during training camp and in the preseason. He started the year as the Packers primary backup at left tackle behind David Bakhtiari.

Taking Over as the Starter in Year Two

Bakhtiari reaggravated his knee injury and was shut down for the season after the season opener against the Bears. Walker stepped in and became the starter beginning in Week 2.

For the season, he played in all 17 games and started 15 of them. Early in the season, he struggled. His run blocking was average at best. When protecting Jordan Love, Walker was susceptible to inside moves and bull rushes. The Packers even benched him in Week 9, but he returned to the starting lineup just one week later.

In the second half of the season, Walker improved in both run and pass blocking. By the end of the season, he was playing at a consistently high level. His final pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus was strong while his run blocking grade was average but on the upswing.

When he was asked about the difference in his game now as compared to when he came into the league, Walker told reporters, “I would say I’m a lot more confident than when I first started. [I’m] more decisive, being able to play faster.”

Walker described his approach to the game this way, “You just have to be locked in every play,” he said. “It’s all really about preparation and confidence. As long as you prepare the right way, go into a game confident, and have a short-term memory while playing, you’ll put yourself in a good position. That’s how I go about it: staying focused, being consistent with my preparation and ignore the good plays and ignore the bad plays. Just be good every play.”

When the Packers released Bakhtiari after the 2023 season ended, it appeared Walker would take over as the team’s new starting left tackle.

Packers OT Rasheed Walker Ready to Fight to Keep Starting Job: Draft Day Changes Everything

In the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Gutekunst selected Morgan. The Arizona alum played left tackle in college but because of his below average arm length, many scouts expected him to be moved inside to guard in the NFL.

Gutekunst indicated the team would try Morgan at tackle first, setting up a battle between the first- round pick and Walker for the starting left tackle spot in training camp. Thus far, at rookie camp and OTAs, Morgan has seen reps at both tackle positions and at guard.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has been pleased with the way Walker has reacted to the selection of Morgan. “There’s only two ways you can go about it, and I think he’s chosen the right way,” LaFleur said.

That means working hard and competing for the starting job and not sulking after the team used a first-round pick at his position.

Walker is concentrating on improving his game and taking his play to the next level. He’s determined not to let anything stand in his way as he starts his third NFL season.




Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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