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Packers 2022 Roster Preview: Green Bay’s deepest position is their offensive line

You can make the case that up to 11 players could make Green Bay’s roster at some point in 2022.

Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Heading into the 2022 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers clearly needed to address the offensive line position. After losing tackle/guard Billy Turner, center/guard Lucas Patrick and right tackle Dennis Kelly in the offseason, the team desperately needed to add depth to their roster.

The team did so by selecting three linemen in the draft and adding three more in undrafted free agency, turning one of their weaknesses into a strength, as long as the injured David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins make a full recovery this season. Out of the Packers’ 15 offensive linemen on their 90-man roster at the moment, 14 of them are homegrown. General manager Brian Gutekunst, head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich, recently promoted from offensive line coach/run game coordinator, hope they have the recipe to keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright and to keep piles moving in the running game.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at Green Bay’s current offensive line room as we head into training camp at the end of the month.

David Bakhtiari

How acquired: 2013 NFL draft (4th round, #109)

NFL experience: 10th year

2021 stats: 1 start, 1 game (left tackle)

Last year, David Bakhtiari opened the season on the physically unable to perform list due to a 2020 ACL injury. Due to reoccurring issues with inflammation, Bakhtiari only saw playing time in one regular season game in 2021: the season finale against the Detroit Lions. The former All-Pro left tackle then missed the team’s playoff game in the divisional round, bringing up questions about his 2022 status. So far, Bakhtiari has missed organized team activities and minicamp, which was expected per head coach Matt LaFleur, meaning we should get a sign if he can go or not in 2022 at the start of training camp in late July.

Elgton Jenkins

How acquired: 2019 NFL draft (2nd round, #44)

NFL experience: 4th year

2021 stats: 8 starts, 8 games (left tackle)

In Bakhtiari’s absence, Elgton Jenkins, who can play all five positions on the offensive line, showed his versatility in 2021. Jenkins was a lockdown left tackle who started eight games before tearing his ACL himself against the Minnesota Vikings in a mid-season matchup. If Bakhtiari and Jenkins are healthy, the assumption is that Jenkins could kick over to right tackle to replace Billy Turner, who was waived with an injury designation this offseason. There is a chance, though, that Jenkins could return to guard, the position he earned a Pro Bowl at in 2020, if another right tackle emerges.

Jon Runyan Jr.

How acquired: 2020 NFL draft (6th round, #192)

NFL experience: 3rd year

2021 stats: 16 starts, 17 games (left guard)

Jon Runyan Jr., the son of former Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler Jon Runyan Sr., was the Packers’ breakout player on the offensive line in 2021. After participating almost exclusively as a special teamer as a sixth-round rookie, Runyan was pushed into a starting role in Week 2 of 2021 and proved himself talented enough to stick in the league as a starter. Unless Bakhtiari and Jenkins are healthy and the team doesn’t need Jenkins to play right tackle, Runyan will be the team’s starting left guard in 2022.

Josh Myers

How acquired: 2021 NFL draft (2nd round, #62)

NFL experience: 2nd year

2021 stats: 6 starts, 6 games (center)

There were high expectations for 2021 second-round pick Josh Myers last season, as he was set to replace Corey Linsley — a 2020 All-Pro who signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Unfortunately, a knee injury kept Myers out of most of the Packers’ games, forcing Lucas Patrick — now a Chicago Bear — into the starting role at center. Myers played solid when he saw playing time in 2021 and the expectation is that another year under his belt plus * knocks on wood * his improved health will help him take the next step in 2022.

Royce Newman

How acquired: 2021 NFL draft (4th round, #142)

NFL experience: 2nd year

2021 stats: 16 starts, 17 games (right guard)

As a rookie, Royce Newman actually played more snaps than any other offensive lineman for the Packers last season. Unfortunately, he was often the weak link as he struggled to handle stunts as he transitioned from Ole Miss’ extreme spread offense to Green Bay’s pro-style of play. This isn’t to say that he can’t improve in 2022, but Newman’s right guard position is the one most likely up for grabs when the offensive line is healthy.

Yosh Nijman

How acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent in 2019

NFL experience: 3rd year

2021 stats: 8 starts, 17 games (left tackle)

Next season, Yosh Nijman almost certainly will be a starting tackle for another team or be one of the highest-paid swing tackles the league has seen. Fortunately for the Packers, Nijman was a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning that the team was able to hit him with a $965,000, one-year deal before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2023. Nijman has played exclusively at left tackle with Green Bay outside of one quarter of preseason football, but there is the possibility that he can get a look at right tackle...at least until Jenkins returns to the field. In minicamp, the first time that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has spent extended time with the team, Nijman played right tackle when Rodgers was on the field and left tackle when backup quarterback Jordan Love was under center.

Cole Van Lanen

How acquired: 2021 NFL draft (6th round, #214)

NFL experience: First year

2021 stats: 0 starts, 1 game

Cole Van Lanen saw one regular snap with the Green Bay Packers in his rookie season after being taken in the sixth round of the draft out of Wisconsin. That snap was a kneel. Still, the veteran offensive linemen seems to have an edge over the rookies as Van Lanen has seen the majority of right tackle snaps with “the ones” throughout the spring and summer. With that being said, to go along with the Nijman notes, Van Lanen was kicked to left tackle when quarterback Aaron Rodgers joined the team, a role that will likely be filled with a healthy David Bakhtiari. Still, Don’t count out Van Lanen beating out some of these rookies for a roster spot or at the very least an opportunity to make the team’s practice squad again in 2022.

Jake Hanson

How acquired: 2020 NFL draft (6th round, #208)

NFL experience: 2nd year

2021 stats: 0 starts, 5 games (left guard)

Jake Hanson saw playing time in one game last year (Kansas City) as a left guard, but he is typically viewed as a center prospect long-term. Behind Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Newman and Van Lanen, the “starters” this spring and summer with Bakhtiari and Jenkins out, Hanson was the next player who was most rotated in with “the ones.” Hanson has gotten looks at both guard and center for the team this offseason, with the swing interior role vacated by Lucas Patrick’s signing with the Bears. The fact that Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom, third- and fourth-round picks by the team this past draft, can play on the interior might hurt Hanson’s chances to make the team, but at this point he is ahead of them on the depth chart...for whatever that's worth in July.

Sean Rhyan

How acquired: 2022 NFL draft (3rd round, #92)

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

The Green Bay Packers made three selections between the 22nd and 34th picks in this past draft class and then had to wait virtually two full rounds before making their next selection: UCLA’s Sean Rhyan. Rhyan had primarily played left tackle for the team but also moved around as an unbalanced tight end in Chip Kelly’s odd offensive scheme. At the professional level, Rhyan projects either to a tackle or guard. There’s a chance that he can compete for playing time at either spot on the right side of the line this season, but he’s behind the 8 ball in terms of the numbers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Zach Tom

How acquired: 2022 NFL draft (4th round, #140)

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

Zach Tom’s claim to fame is that he absolutely shut down Florida State pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson last season when the two went head-to-head. Johnson was drafted in the first round while Tom, viewed as undersized (6’4”, 304 pounds) for the position, slipped to the fourth round. Green Bay has had a ton of success with middle-round selections of athletic, undersized linemen who are viewed as something between a tackle and a center. David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter are the best ones to highlight. Tom likely won’t start in 2022, but has the potential to play all five positions like Elgton Jenkins, depending on where the team needs him. Versatility and pass protection is the name of his game.

Rasheed Walker

How acquired: 2022 NFL draft (7th round, #249)

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

Rasheed Walker is something close to a height-weight-speed project who hasn’t totally sanded down the rough edges to his game. The seventh-round rookie should be viewed as a player on the roster bubble who like Cole Van Lanen could come off of the practice squad as a rookie and contribute significantly more in his second year in the league. At the moment, the team has David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Yosh Nijman, Van Lanen, Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom ahead of him in the tackle pecking order. It’s simply hard to justify keeping Walker on the 53-man roster as the team’s seventh tackle when it’s really the only position on the line where he can stick at.

Michal Menet

How acquired: Signed to practice squad as a street free agent in 2021

NFL experience: First year

2021 stats: College

Like Jake Hanson, Michael Menet is a hybrid interior offensive lineman who can play center or guard. Menet was drafted in the seventh round by the Arizona Cardinals last season before the Packers picked him up off of the street in December and handed him a futures contract in January. Based on how the team operated in the draft and how the team has rotated offensive linemen throughout the spring and early summer, Menet will be one of the first players that Green Bay will attempt to retain on their practice squad, but has a long, steep hill ahead of him if he wants to make the 53-man roster.

George Moore

How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

George Moore is an undrafted free agent from Oregon who got a sixth year of eligibility in 2021, making him one of the older rookies in this class. Moore saw playing time at left tackle, left guard and right tackle at Oregon, notably replacing first-round pick Penei Sewell when Sewell opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. The former junior college transfer’s frame (6’6”, 312 pounds) and versatility is impressive enough to earn himself a look in camp to work his way onto the practice squad.

Caleb Jones

How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

Former Indiana Hoosier Caleb Jones walks among giants at a listed 6’9” and 370 pounds. Jones has seen playing time at left tackle (seven games) but played most of his snaps in the Big Ten at right tackle (24 starts.) Jones is rough around the edges, but a player of his size is almost always going to intrigue NFL evaluators. Jones might be a multi-year project, like Yosh Nijman, who contributes a few years down the line after a couple seasons on the practice squad.

Cole Schneider

How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022

NFL experience: Rookie

2021 stats: College

True guards often get overlooked in the evaluation process for players who have the potential to also play tackle and/or center. While Cole Schneider has started one game at center, the vast majority of his snaps at UCF came at guard. Four times, Schneider was given All-AAC honors while starting for the Golden Knights, but never heard his named called on draft day. With Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan Jr., Royce Newman, Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom potentially on the 53-man roster as guards, there isn’t much room for him to wiggle through to make the team’s opening day roster. Schneider, like the other undrafted free agents, should be looked at as a potential 2022 practice squad project who may be able to make the team in 2023 at the earliest — barring injury.