Packers fans don’t have to look any further than the last two postseason games to understand the importance of the offensive line. Aaron Rodgers was under siege in both contests, sacked 10 times in those 2 games. Injuries to David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins both proved too much to overcome for an undermanned Packers front. Regardless of Aaron Rodgers’ status, the Packers first round pick should be used on the offensive line.
Bakhtiari is under contract for 3 more seasons, but Jenkins and Billy Turner are both free agents after 2022. The Packers will likely try and sign Jenkins to a long-term deal, but after suffering his knee injury in November, it remains to be seen how much of – if any – of the 2022 season he will be able to suit up for. Bakhtiari showed this year that the recovery from that sort of injury can’t be taken for granted.
Brian Gutekunst has done his best to patch the tackle depth with free agent signings. Jared Veldheer proved to be a solid fill-in, but Dennis Kelly struggled when called into action late in 2021. The time has come for the Packers to invest high draft capital back into the tackle position. They have bolstered their interior recently, have to be excited by the combination of Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., and Royce Newman.
Even if they lock Jenkins up and see him as the right tackle of the future, it would behoove them to try and secure another tackle for the long-term. Best case scenario, the Packers can have a young swing tackle who can groom under one of the best left tackles in the league. Worst case scenario, they have a talented player that can start if injuries continue to ravage the edges.
This happens to also be a great class to need a tackle in. Daniel Jeremiah has 7 offensive tackles ranked in his top 50 prospects, and Matt Miller gave this year’s crop of tackles an A- grade. The Packers will likely have multiple tackles to choose from if they sit at pick 28, and could even opt to trade out into the early second round and still secure a tackle they like. And the truth of that matter is, whether it’s the back-to-back MVP or a raw, young QB – you can never have too many big men protecting them.
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.
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