The Green Bay Packers entered the 2022 NFL Draft needing depth on the offensive line. General manager Brian Gutekunst made sure to address that need with multiple picks over the three-day event, starting with selecting UCLA offensive tackle Sean Rhyan in the third round.
Rhyan was a three-year starter for the Bruins, becoming the first true freshman to start at tackle at UCLA since 2012. By his junior year, Rhyan was named a first-team All-Pac-12 player by coaches across the conference.
At 6’5” and 321 pounds, Rhyan’s frame made him an intriguing offensive line prospect who could play either tackle or kick in to guard. While his athleticism was still impressive for a tackle, his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) is elite when compared to offensive guards who have tested over the years.
RAS Man strikes again! New Packers OL Sean Rhyan as a guard. pic.twitter.com/LV9lQaMs5K— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) April 30, 2022
While Packers fans are expecting Rhyan to compete for one of the starting offensive guard positions with David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins likely securing the two tackle spots, the UCLA prospect has the size and skill to continue to play at tackle when called upon at the pro level.
Turning on the tape, one of the things that stands out when Rhyan gets into his pass sets is his patience. You’ll often see tackles get beat by pass rushers when they are anxious to shoot their arms and lunge at the rusher. This can cause the tackle to lose their balance, and a savvy rusher can take advantage of the lunge to disengage and get to the quarterback.
On these two pass sets you can see Rhyan’s patience as he waits for both pass rushers (one of them being the fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux) to commit to a pass-rush move before getting engaged. It’s almost like a game of chicken, and something that Rhyan does a very good job of.
I like the patience on this rep to not lunge and waits to engage until the pass rusher commits to his move.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
QB still gets sacked, but this is a good rep from Rhyan. pic.twitter.com/R7kPGxC844
Rhyan vs Thibodeaux.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
Great placement and strike timing with the left hand to stay engaged through the chop move. pic.twitter.com/WotiZwqZJ1
If Rhyan can continue to land his strikes with good timing and placement, it’s going to be hard for NFL pass rushers to get past him.
Something else I didn’t see a lot, but looked solid on tape was how Rhyan handled the speed rush. This rep against LSU shows Rhyan get out of his usual pass set, get his hips turned to chase after the speed rush and use the rusher’s momentum to push him behind the quarterback.
Solid job here vs the speed rush to just use the rusher's momentum to push him behind the QB. pic.twitter.com/YQ8mz5lgbR— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
From a technical standpoint, something that really stands out with Rhyan is his anchor. Play strength is important when handling a bull rusher, but even the strongest offensive linemen can get beat on a power rush if they don’t widen their base and dig their heels into the dirt.
Unfortunately, one of the clips that I posted of Rhyan’s anchor was replaced by a different rep, but this play against Thibodeaux is another good example of how the UCLA tackle is able to widen his based and stonewall any attempt at a bull rush.
Rhyan vs Thibodeaux Part 2.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
Another good anchor from Rhyan. Love how he widens his base and digs his heels in. The anchor has looked very good throughout these games I've watched. pic.twitter.com/kKSyE6bGww
Strength, athleticism, and technique all stand out when watching Rhyan, but the most impressive takeaway from the tape was how quickly he is able to diagnose what’s developing in front of him. Rhyan can recognize twists and stunts with ease, but also knows to look for work when someone he’s preparing to block drops into coverage.
This play against Oregon is a great example of Rhyan’s mental processing. Look at how quickly he reacts to Thibodeaux dropping into coverage before he resets and looks for work.
One of Rhyan's biggest strengths is his mental processing.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
He recognizes twists/stunts well, but also quickly reacts when a potential pass rusher drops into coverage to reposition and expect the rush from somewhere else.
Great example here. pic.twitter.com/gdco2Z2te0
If the Packers do want to kick Rhyan inside to guard, there is evidence that he can move bodies in the trenches. This QB sneak against LSU is a great example of how Rhyan can keep his pads low and drive defenders out of their intended space.
Plays like this are where I can see Rhyan making an impact as a guard in the trenches.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
He can move defenders with good play strength while keeping his pads low. pic.twitter.com/8dcgbr4jsL
With how frequently the Packers like the run the ball, head coach Matt LaFleur will probably want to see more plays like this if Rhyan works out at guard in training camp and the preseason.
There are some weaknesses in Rhyan’s game, particularly when working in open space. The third-round pick has the play speed and movement skills to get out as a pulling lineman or work into the second level, but he struggles sticking to defenders in space and can be thrown off balance when trying to engage with them.
Would like to see Rhyan get a bit more comfortable out in space and making blocks at the second level. He can struggle confidently sticking to defenders on the move. pic.twitter.com/9obGl3N8Xf— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
That’s not to say that Rhyan can never engage with defenders in space. It’s important when talking about weaknesses in prospects to look for instances of where the player can still do what’s needed.
When Rhyan does find a defender in space and stick to them, he can dominate at the point of attack.
Now this is a GREAT second-level block on a linebacker to wash them completely out of the play. pic.twitter.com/5jdSezKEaM— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) May 24, 2022
The battles for starting jobs on the offensive line will be fascinating this offseason. The Packers have plenty of depth, and another job early in the season could be up for grabs if Jenkins isn’t ready to go at right tackle by Week 1.
Regardless of who ends up starting, Rhyan should have a good chance to compete at multiple positions over the next few months.