Green Bay Packers Roster Breakdown: Offensive Line

Green Bay Packers Roster Breakdown: Offensive Line

You can read my previous article here:

Offensive Line:

David Bakhtiari:

Coming off his torn ACL at the end of the 2020 season, it’s too soon to know exactly when he will be back. This offseason during minicamp he was quoted as saying that he was about halfway back, which if true, might be a sign that he will miss all of camp and at least three to six of the first games of the season. He may have been underselling it a bit since he looked to be moving pretty well in the portions of minicamp and OTAs that were open.

Still, with how conservative the packers medical team is, I would expect him to miss at least the first two to four games of the season. They have a lot of money invested in him. I don’t think they want to take a chance at putting him out there too soon and he ends up reinjuring it.

With all that out of the way. We all know what he is when healthy. He is arguably the top left tackle in the game. He has been pretty healthy up until his ACL tear; only missing ten regular-season games in his career.

Elgton Jenkins:

The definition of plug and play. He can play any position on the o-line and play it well. He has literally taken snaps at all five spots. It still seems like guard is his best spot. With the way the Packers have drafted recently with all the interior offensive lineman, the theory among fans is the Packers may view him long-term at right tackle. Jenkins has 26 starts at left guard, three at the center, and one at right tackle. Against the 49er’s, he saw snaps at left guard, center, and left tackle.

He will probably start the season at left tackle until agent 69 is back. He was used at left tackle in minicamp and OTA’s. After that back to guard. He is a wall-in pass pro, only allowing one sack in two seasons. He has also improved as a run blocker. Jenkins made the pro bowl in his second season and still has room to grow.

Josh Myers:

The new guy on the block. Myers was drafted to take over for Corey Linsley. He took every single snap with the first team in OTA’s and minicamp. They are giving him every chance to take the spot. Unless he really struggles in camp and preseason, you can pencil him in as the starter.

He will have several vets around him to help him too; guys with center experience. Both Jenkins and Patrick have played center, so they should be able to help him with protection calls and the like early on.

Even though he is 6’5, 310, he is not a power blocker. Myers is more of a positional blocker. That is what zone-blocking asks for from its offensive linemen so he should be fine. He is only an average athlete, so you probably won’t see him being used as a puller. He will have his struggles, of course, all rookies do. But overall, he should be fine.

Lucas Patrick:

Lucas Patrick has been the Ahsoka Tano of the Packers. When he came in for a rookie minicamp tryout, no one thought he was going to make it. But, they signed him and he made to cut downs and spent his rookie year on the practice squad. In his second year, he made a couple of starts but, did nothing to stand out. In 2018, he started four games but, was still behind the likes of Justin McCray.

He seemed like maybe an ok backup at the time. Then, in 2019, he showed his versatility and played games at both center and right guard. It all culminated in him starting 11 games at right guard and four at left guard in 2020. Patrick also took some snaps at center. He played well in 2020.

Some fans actually really like him. He has gone from afterthought to full-fledged starter. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. He is a better right guard than left guard. He may even be a better center than guard. Unless there is an injury, he will probably start the whole season at right guard and be a solid starter.

Billy Turner:

The second most versatile offensive lineman on the roster behind Jenkins. He can play any position except center. Coming off a disappointing 2019 season and the 2021 cap crunch, it was thought that Turner was a cut candidate heading into the 2020 season. But he performed really well.

He started six games at right tackle, four at right guard, and four at left tackle. He also started both playoff games at left tackle. In evaluating his 2019 and 2020 film his best position was right tackle. Hopefully, that is where he is put this season and sticks there. Some of the bad play late in 2019 has been attributed to a knee injury. Before that, he played ok. He did take most of his snaps in the offseason at right tackle.

Yosh Nijman:

Nijman has become a bit of a cult hero among Packers fans. A freak athlete coming out of Virginia Tech. He scored at 9.81 RAS at the 2019 combine. An undrafted free agent after the 2019 draft. Even though he had 32 starts at VT, he was seen as still being raw technique-wise.

He spent the first 11 weeks of the 2019 season on the practice squad. He was then signed to the active roster and ended up on the IR on December 21st. For the 2020 season, he made the roster and ‘played’ in all 16 games. He only saw a total of 14 snaps all season. The majority of them were on kneel-downs. So even though he has been in the league for two years, he is still an unknown.

This training camp will be very important for him. If he can reach some of his potential, he could be the Packers swing tackle this coming season, or he could get cut and never heard from again.

Royce Newman:

Newman was kind of a surprise pick, but he does fit the Packer’s profile. He can play both tackle or guard and is a good athlete. His junior year at Ole Miss he started 12 games at left guard. He was supposed to play right tackle, but due to some things out of his control, the coaches put him at left guard instead.

He was then able to start all ten games at the right tackle in 2020. Royce saw snaps at both guard and right tackle in OTA’s and minicamp. It seems the staff is trying to find the best spot for him. Based on film, I felt he was better at tackle.

He reminds me of Mark Tauscher. Not body wise but play style. He doesn’t always look pretty, but he gets the job done and rarely gets beat. Even when he does get beat he figures it out and fixes it. He seems like the type of player where you blink and he has been a solid 8-10 year starter.

Jon Runyan Jr:

JRJ surprisingly slipped to the sixth round. I never understood it. Coming into the draft, I had him as a fouth-fifth round pick. He was a 24 game starter at left tackle for Michigan with a great athletic profile. As an OT, he scored a RAS of 8.49 and the only scores that held him back were his height (6’4) and his weight (306).

If he is switched to OG, his score jumps to a 9.44. It’s not like he has short arms either. They were 33″ 1/4, which is perfectly fine for a guard. He could probably even be trained to back up at right tackle.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw snaps there in camp and pre-season to stretch him out. He played 160 snaps as an injury fill-in and in some kneel-down situations as well. Runyan played 23 snaps at RG and 131 snaps at LG. He had five snaps in kneel-down situations. He should compete for a starting guard spot in camp. If he doesn’t he will be the first interior guy off the bench.

Ben Braden:

Braden was the daring of Packers media after OTA’s, where coach Steno’ was quoted as saying he was a potential starter at either guard or tackle. Braden actually tested out really well at the 2017 combine. He scored a 9.05 RAS as a guard.

Braden started his career with the Jets as an undrafted free agent, but has bounced around practice squads and has suited up for seven games in his career. He played in four snaps for Green Bay in 2020; his first NFL snaps.

The thing with Braden is he is already 27 and has been released/cut seven times already in his career. It is highly suspect that after all that bouncing around practice squads since 2017 that all of a sudden he developed into a potential starter in the NFL in one offseason?

Stenavich is a really good coach, but I just don’t see it. Could he make the roster? most definitely. He does have the versatility that the Packers like. He can play guard or tackle, although he is probably a better fit at guard. At 6’6, 329, he is also the biggest offensive lineman on the roster. If he does make the roster, he will probably be the last one to make it.

Jake Hanson:

Hanson was the biggest surprise pick of the last few years. He doesn’t fit the Packers’ profile at all. Hanson is small, unathletic, and lacks versatility. He scored a 3.75 RAS at the combine. He was not able to do agility drills and explosion drills due to an offseason surgery. Hanson started 49 games at center for Oregon.

He did not make the roster out of camp but did spend all of 2020 on the practice squad. Some even who saw him at camp last year were quoted as saying he looked like the JV kid in high school trying to practice with the varsity kids. With the drafting of Myers and Jenkins and Patrick’s ability to both play center, I do not see Hanson having a shot at making the roster.

Simon Stepaniak:

Stepaniak injured his knee in January of last year and ended up needing surgery. So, he was not able to participate in the combine or even training camp. He spent the majority of the season on the non-football injury list. Stepaniak only started at guard at Indiana. He played both left and right guard. If not for the knee injury, he probably would have gone higher.

He does not offer much in the way of being able to play any other positions. The former IU graduate is also not a great fit for the zone-blocking scheme. He did play some tackle in high school and took snaps in practice at tackle at Indiana.

He is going to have a fight on his hands just to make the roster with all the recent interior draft picks. I would think that he will either be the last lineman on the roster or on the practice squad.

Cole Van Lanen:

Van Lanen the hometown boy! He is living the dream. He played at Wisconsin which is known league-wide as a school that is good at developing offensive linemen. They don’t all become top-level players, but they usually play for at least a few years. He is somewhat similar to Newman. In that, he has guard/tackle versatility. He started 19 games at left tackle for Wisconsin.

He is more than likely not going to be able to stay outside. Van Lanen for sure will not be able to stay at left tackle. While he tested out well athletically. A 9.45 RAS as a guard. Watching his film, you do not see that level of athleticism. Based on his film, he looks closer to a 6-6.5 RAS guy.

He has some upside though, and he plays hard so there is something there to work with. Of the three offensive linemen taken in 2021, he has the least chance of making the roster. I would put it at almost a certainty that he ends up on the practice squad.

He needs a lot of development to become an NFL player. He needs some technique work and could stand to remake his body a little.

Zack Johnson:

Johnson came to the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State in the 2020 draft. He didn’t make the roster and was signed to the practice squad the whole season. Johnson had a lot of starting experience at NDSU. He started three seasons. Two at right tackle, then played right guard his senior season. He had 46 total starts!

The problem is his athletic testing was really bad. Even for a guard, he scored a 2.59. His height and weight on Kent’s site are incorrect, but even still, all his athletic testing numbers were bad. The Packers probably liked his experience and guard/tackle ability. But, with six offensive linemen drafted the last two years, I don’t see how he makes the roster.

Coy Cronk:

Cronk is a former teammate of Stepaniak’s at Indiana. Cronk started 40 games at left tackle at IU. He then was a graduate transfer to Iowa. Iowa switched him to right tackle. He only ended up starting two games at Iowa due to injuries. He also suffered an injury in 2019 as well only playing in four games.

Cronk has some talent and upside. The question is his health and if the back-to-back years of injuries are still affecting his play. There are a lot of people ahead of him. His chance of making the roster is doubtful. If he shows he is healthy and can play right tackle and maybe some guard, it might help. He is a practice squad candidate.

Jon Dietzen:

Dietzen’s story is an interesting one. He retired due to injuries following the 2018 season. Up until then, he was thought of as a potential draft prospect. Injuries derailed his career a bit. He had 20 starts at left guard and 12 at left tackle before retiring. He then sat out 2019 but started to feel the itch to play again. Also, he felt better health-wise and decided to try again in 2020.

He ended up starting seven games, four at left guard, one at right guard, and two at left tackle as an injury replacement for his former and current teammate Cole Van Lanen. The injuries seem to have affected his athleticism. Right now, he is probably just a camp body. He is also already 24.

Jacob Capra:

Capra is kind of the ‘sleeper’ of the undrafted guys. He is a former Oregon Duck that transferred to San Diego State. He has experience at both left and right tackle. Capra spent two seasons at SDSU. He also has some experience at guard.

Capra fits what the Packers like, versatile, athletic, and lots of experience. He is very doubtful to make the roster. Capra still has some strength deficiencies and needs some technique work. The former Oregon Duck will be fighting for a spot on the practice squad.

Final Thoughts-

So looking at the 2021 season the top seven guys are locks to make the roster. The locks would be Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Turner, Patrick, Newman, and Runyan. Now there is some thought that the Packers could trade-off Patrick. He will be a free agent next offseason and the Packers won’t be able to afford to keep him.

If some of the young guys really step up like Runyan, Stepaniak, Newman, etc…, they may try and get something for him rather than nothing (other than maybe a comp pick). It’s an interesting idea, but I feel he stays.

The Packers usually keep nine, sometimes ten. I feel the #8 and #9 guys will be Nijman and Braden. Nijman is the only real pure tackle on the roster other than Bakhtiari, and he has upside. I feel he will reach some of that. Braden because of his size and his ability to play both tackle and guard. If they keep a 10th, I feel it will be Van Lanen, mostly because he is a draft pick, and while Stepaniak is as well, he doesn’t have the positional versatility that Cole does.

The practice squad will be interesting as well. If the rumors are true and NFL will keep practice squads at 16, that leaves more room for o-line. Capra, Cronk, and Stepaniak are good bets for the practice squad if they keep it at 16. If it goes back to 12, then those three will be fighting for two spots. If the Packers only keep nine, then Van Lanen is a shoo-in for the practice squad.

Brian Maafi

Packers fan since '96. I am a husband, father, and sports fan. My passion is the Packers and the NFL draft. I have been a draft guide contributor to cheeseheadtv.com. I also play on a paintball team in my spare time

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