This is the next in a series of articles on the young players at each position on the Green Bay Packers roster that the team will be counting on to take a step forward and make bigger contributions in 2023 and beyond. If these players make progress, the team can get back to playoff contention. If these players fail to improve, the Packers are likely to continue to struggle.
Along the offensive line, the biggest player the team will be counting on to step up is 2022 rookie Zach Tom although there are other candidates who could definitely help the team going forward. The Packers are also likely to add a few offensive linemen to the roster in the draft as GM Brian Gutekunst likes to do every season.
The Packers drafted three offensive linemen again in 2022 but fourth round pick Zach Tom out of Wake Forest made the biggest impact as a rookie.
Tom played nine games for the Packers as a rookie and started five of them. He played 84 percent of the team’s offensive snaps when he was in the lineup.
One of the great things about Tom is his versatility. He played four different positions along the offensive line as a rookie with center being the only spot he didn’t play for the Packers. By the way, Tom did play center in college and can fill in at that position as well.
Tom graded out better as a pass blocker than a run blocker last season and he may need to add a little more size to his 6’4”, 305-pound frame to get to the next level when run blocking.
According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie permitted just one sack all season and was not called for a penalty in 489 offensive snaps in 2022.
If Tom makes a second-year jump, he can become a starter at any position along the offensive line depending on whether the Packers bring back Yosh Nijman and David Bakhtiari next season or be the ultimate swing man along the line.
Other Young Candidates
There are other young offensive linemen on this team who could take a step forward in 2022 and we will discuss them here.
Sean Rhyan’s rookie season was close to a complete washout. The third-round pick out of UCLA played only one special teams snap in one game (Week 9 against the Lions) and was then suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s PED policy.
Rhyan had issues adjusting to the NFL and Tom quickly passed him on the depth chart in training camp and during the preseason. The Packers will look for Rhyan to prove he can break the team’s recent issues with their recent third round picks as so many of them have struggled once they join the team.
Seventh round pick Rasheed Walker has a lot of raw talent but needed work on his technique and work ethic. At one point, the former Penn State star was considered a potential day one or two draft pick but his final year in college saw him fall down most teams’ draft boards. He also saw action in one game and played four special teams snaps against Miami. The Packers are hoping he can make more of a contribution in his second season in the league.
Royce Newman started 16 games as a rookie and six games early in 2022 at guard but struggled with blitz and stunt pickups and was eventually benched. The Packers are hoping the former Mississippi star can take his game up a notch and compete for more playing time in 2023.
Big Caleb Jones also remains an intriguing developmental prospect. At 6’9” and 370 pounds, he’d be the biggest player ever to play for the team if he appears in a game. Jones has intriguing tools but is considered very raw. He will compete for a roster spot next season and the team will see if he can be a contributor in 2023, most likely on special teams.
There is little doubt the Packers will add more players along the line at the draft and that they will figure into the young players calculation before the start of training camp but these are the players on the current roster who most fans should keep an eye on heading into the offseason.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage