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2023 NFL Draft: Offensive linemen who hit the Packers’ thresholds

Green Bay’s always in the market for athletic former tackles

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 BYU at Liberty Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Under both general manager Brian Gutekunst and Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers have been known as the best team in the league at drafting pass-blocking offensive linemen. This is no coincidence, as they’re more strict about “their type” at this position than any other.

For the most part, the Packers’ guardrails come down — at every position — after the fourth round, but the first four rounds of the draft are spent looking for players who are fairly safe bets. In the top 140 selections in the draft, neither Gutekunst nor Thompson has ever drafted an offensive lineman with a shuttle time slower than 4.75 seconds or a three-cone time slower than 7.82 seconds. Those numbers aren’t particularly high, but the fact that they haven’t even dabbled with below-average athletes in the short area drills in over a decade and a half is more than notable.

The other aspect that comes into play when trying to pin down “Packers-type” offensive linemen is their versatility. Since 2007, the only top-140 offensive lineman that Green Bay has drafted that at one point also didn’t play tackle at the college level is center Josh Myers, who just also happens to be the only draft pick in that range who didn’t run either of the short area drills during the pre-draft process.

With all that being said, let’s take a look at the draftable offensive linemen (according to the consensus draft board) who have checked both boxes for the Packers. The players we’re going to highlight have both tested in at least one of the short area drills and hit the perceived minimum at the position and have also played at least one game as a tackle at the college level.

This, notably, cuts out many of the top tackles in the class. For example, both Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison would have had the worst short area drills of any drafted Packers offensive lineman in the first four rounds of the draft since at least Mike Sherman was the general manager of the team. Two other high first-round prospects, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson and Georgia’s Broderick Jones, simply opted to not test during the pre-draft process.

So what does that leave us with? Check out the names below.

Day 1

Darnell Wright, Tennessee

The only offensive lineman expected to be drafted next Thursday who fits the Packers’ thresholds is Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, who also has taken a visit with Green Bay. Beyond his visit, the Packers have also shown interest with general manager Brian Gutekunst taking a trip to Knoxville for Tennessee’s pro day. To say the least, there’s at least a little smoke around Wright being a potential Packers selection, be it at 15 or in a trade-down scenario.

Wright is a former five-star recruit who was able to earn First-Team All-SEC honors in 2022. He played left tackle in 2021 but started 29 games at right tackle over his college career.

Day 2

Cody Mauch, North Dakota State

A son of North Dakota, Cody Mauch played nine-man football at the high school level and actually walked on as a tight end and defensive end to start his college career. As a redshirt freshman at North Dakota State, Mauch switched to training as an offensive lineman full-time.

Pretty universally, Mauch is thought of as a guard prospect at the next level, even though he started 37 of 39 games as a left tackle for the Bison. The other two starts in his career came at right tackle. He spent six years at the college level and already turned 24 years old in January.

Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse

After the big six tackle prospects, depending on if you call Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski a guard or tackle, the next one off the board should be Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, who has a chance to be the only true tackle taken in the second round of next week’s draft.

The Canadian was a 3.5-year starter for Syracuse and was named as both a team captain and Second-Team All-ACC player as a senior. Most of his career was spent at left tackle, but he earned eight starts at right tackle as a true freshman and sophomore.

Tyler Steen, Alabama

Like many athletic offensive linemen, Tyler Steen didn’t begin his career at the position. Originally, Steen attended Vanderbilt as a defensive lineman but quickly converted to the offensive line.

Steen started as the Commodores’ right tackle as a true sophomore and moved to left tackle for his junior and senior seasons. With the extra year of eligibility afforded to him by the Covid season, he transferred to Alabama, where he was named a Second-Team All-SEC left tackle last year. Despite the extra year in school, he still has yet to turn 23 years old.

Blake Freeland, BYU

Blake Freeland is one of the more interesting offensive linemen in the class to me, simply because of his story. He earned a scholarship to BYU while he was still a high school quarterback. Not only did he set a state record for throwing the javelin in Utah later on in his prep days, but he also converted to the tight end position.

After changing positions again, he was named the starting right tackle for BYU as a freshman and sophomore. He moved to left tackle for his final two years with the Cougars, the position where he earned team captain and All-American honors.

Here’s some other information about Freeland’s background: His mother was an All-American basketball player at BYU, he never took his LDS mission and he recorded an insane 37” vertical at nearly 6’8” and 302 pounds.

Day 3

Nick Broeker, Ole Miss

Despite not recording a single start during his freshman season, Nick Broeker earned Freshman All-American honors as a full-in left tackle for Ole Miss. He played that position for his first two years with the program before kicking in to left guard last season, where he was given All-SEC and All-American honors. He also was a team captain in 2022.

Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion

In two of Nick Saldiveri’s seasons at Old Dominion, he was unable to register a single snap for the team. The first came in his redshirt season in 2018. The second was in 2020, when Old Dominion made the choice to pass on the season entirely due to Covid.

Saldiveri spent the vast majority of his career at right tackle, but did get a guard look last season. In 2022, he earned Second-Team All-Sun Belt honors.

Braeden Daniels, Utah

Braeden Daniels is about as much of a swing player as you’re going to get in this class. At sub-6’4”, he’s probably not going to get many tackle looks at the NFL level. With that being said, he played 14 games at left tackle, 12 at right tackle and 17 at left guard while with Utah.

Over the last two seasons, after splitting time at all three of those positions, Daniels was named a back-to-back All-Pac 12 player.

Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan

Like Matt Bergeron, Sidy Sow of Eastern Michigan is another French Canadian from Quebec. Sow played left tackle as a redshirt freshman but has been playing the guard position ever since then. Over the last three years, he’s been named a three-time All-MAC guard.

Jon Gaines, UCLA

Jon Gaines is a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin native, which should be of interest to some of you. Originally, Gaines was committed to Northern Illinois and then Princeton before turning down Big Ten offers to play at UCLA. By the way, he already has his master’s degree in hand.

Gaines’ entire history at the tackle position at the college level boils down to just a single game. Instead, he played 29 of his career 30 starts at UCLA on the interior line. He got 26 nods at guard and is also the only player on this list who has any starting experience at center.

Trevor Reid, Louisville

Coming out of high school, Trevor Reid was somewhere between 230 and 250 pounds, depending on the report. Due to his size, he originally enrolled at Georgia Military College — a junior college — out of high school. After adding about 70 pounds to his frame between his high school career and the end of his redshirt season at Louisville, he was able to develop into a two-year starting left tackle for the Cardinals.