The Packers haven’t been great in 2022, but there have been a few bright spots. Young players have stepped up in a few spots when called upon, and without them this season might truly be a tragedy. Or, at least, more of a tragedy than it’s already been.
Here are our writers’ picks for the Packers’ unsung heroes of 2022.
Paul Noonan: Rich Bisaccia
Darnell Savage sucks, Eric Stokes is injured, and the defense should be reeing much more than they are as a result. Instead, Rudy Ford is PF’s 5th overall graded safety while Keisean Nixon has filled in admirably at corner.
Both players are pure Bisaccia pickups, and have contributed on that side of the ball as well. The fact that both have also been legitimate upgrades over their “actual starter” counterparts is the best kind of gravy. Without Bisaccia this team would still be struggling along with random UDFAs on special teams and relying on trash players as backups in the secondary, like last year. Have you seen Shemar Jean-Charles around lately?
Bisaccia’s a better GM than almost anyone else on this team.
Jon Meerdink: Zach Tom
The Packers’ offensive line has been in flux for most of the season, and Tom has been the most consistent off-the-bench help the Packers have been able to find. He’s made starts at both left guard and left tackle (including one tackle start on extremely short notice) and also filled in at right guard for 13 snaps in Week 9. He’s shown some of the shortcomings you’d expect from a rookie, but his versatility has still been a noteworthy asset. And just as importantly, he’s been available when the Packers need him — the same can’t be said for others.
Justis Mosqueda: Yosh Nijman
To piggyback off of what Jon said, I think Nijman has really helped stabilize the offensive line. Imagine if we didn’t have him on the roster. Would Elgton Jenkins still be struggling at right tackle? Would Royce Newman, who has fallen out of the rotation completely, still be lining up at guard? I’m not sure that the Packers would have had the confidence to shake up their line (for the better!) if not for Nijman’s performance when spelling David Bakhtiari earlier in the season.
Tex Western: Jon Runyan, Jr.
I’ll stick with the offensive line theme and pick Runyan, who had played left guard for basically every snap since his rookie training camp in 2020 until midway through this season. Suddenly asked to flip and move to right guard in the middle of the year, Runyan has done so with no perceptible dropoff in his play, while missing a grand total of 43 snaps on the season. Beyond his generally exemplary pass protection, Runyan has not been flagged for a penalty all season – in fact, the only penalty ever called on him in his entire career was as an ineligible man downfield last year in the playoffs. You don’t find players like this in the 6th round of the draft very often, and he’s a huge reason why this line has managed to remain effective this season amid all of the moving pieces.
Tyler Brooke: JJ Enagbare
The Packers desperately needed EDGE depth in the 2022 draft. They waited way too long to address it, but they ended up finding a real gem in Enagbare. He’s not the pass-rushing threat that Rashan Gary is, but the way he’s held down the position, set the EDGE, and occasionally generated pressure has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he develops as his career progresses.