Offensive tackle represents intriguing position for Packers this offseason


When it comes to positional needs for the Green Bay Packers this offseason, offensive tackle is an intriguing one. Depending on which lens you look through, you'll see two very different outlooks at one of the game's most important positions.

In one respect, David Bakhtiari should be back in 2023. For one, Brian Gutekunst said as much in his end-of-season press conference. And two, he was still playing at a high level when on the field last season, allowing just 10 pressures and no sacks while ranking as the seventh-best tackle in football by PFF's pass-blocking efficiency metric on true pass sets. Bakhtiari also ranked 25th out of 86 tackles in run-blocking grade.

Understandably so, injury concerns are valid, but Bakhtiari and the Packers seemed to find a rhythm when it came to managing his workload because, from Week 10 on, his knee was never really an issue. Cutting Bakhtiari also saves the Packers just $5.7 million in cap savings this season, an amount that's way too small given his level of play.

On the right side, the Packers have two very capable starting caliber players in, Yosh Nijman and Zach Tom. Nijman is a restricted free agent but should be back on a relatively inexpensive tender that falls in the $4 to $5 million range. In addition to those two, Elgton Jenkins is another option at tackle, while Caleb Jones and Rasheed Walker each possess quite a bit of upside.

So that's the outlook for 2023 - and it's not bad at all. However, the draft is about planning ahead, and as we look ahead to 2024, the tackle position very much becomes a question mark.


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Although I fully expect Bakhtiari back this season, I can't say the same about a year from now, when his cap savings if cut vault to $21.5 million. Nijman will be a restricted free agent and could end up elsewhere. Jenkins is certainly a nice safety net to have at a key position, but the Packers should do what they can to keep him at guard. Meanwhile, we have no idea if Jones and Walker can be starting-caliber players.

Tom is the closest player that Green Bay has to a sure thing at tackle in 2024, but with how up and down Josh Myers' second season was at center, I wouldn't rule out the Packers having Tom challenge him this summer at that position. Tom's first two years at Wake Forest were spent playing center.

During the Packers' second-half surge on offense in 2022, understandably so, Christian Watson's emergence garnered much of the attention, but that was also the same time the offensive line was healthy and began playing their best football. The offensive line was the catalyst to the offense's overall success from Week 10 and on by providing Aaron Rodgers with time in the pocket and having a formidable run game to lean on.

On the flip side, when the offense was struggling through the first half of the year, a big contributor to those issues was the lack of continuity on the offensive line due to injuries, which also hurt the unit's play. We also saw this in the second half of the season against Tennessee in Week 11 and in the finale against Detroit. Behind a pair of rough performances from the offensive line in those outings, the Packers' offense had their two lowest-scoring games since Week 9. In general, part of Green Bay's potential bounce-back in 2023 will begin with a healthy and more consistent offensive line.

Brian Gutekunst has certainly not shied away from selecting offensive linemen, with nine selections in the last three drafts. With 11 picks, it's fair to say that at some point in this year's draft, there will be at least one offensive line selection, and given the outlook at tackle in 2024, I wouldn't be surprised if it's an early-round selection.

Brennen Rupp of Packers Wire notes that Broderick Jones (Georgia), Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), and Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) could be potential first-round candidates for the Packers. Day 2 options could include Anton Harrison (Oklahoma), Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse), Cody Mauch (North Dakota State), Blake Freeland (BYU), Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland), and Wanya Morris (Oklahoma).

Then on Day 3, where the Packers have had decent success finding offensive linemen, including Zach Tom and Jon Runyan, Rupp lists Braeden Daniels (Utah), Nick Saldiveri (Old Dominion), Carter Warren (Pitt), and Tyler Steen (Alabama) as potential targets.

Other positions of need for the Packers include edge rusher, safety, tight end, and wide receiver, but don't forget about offensive tackle either. It's a premier position, was vital to Green Bay's late-season success on offense, and it's a group that faces a fair amount of unknowns as we look ahead.


Evaluating Packers roster entering 2023 offseason


Story originally appeared on Packers Wire


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