I remember when it seemed like David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were the best pair of offensive linemen in the league. It was a time when they boasted three All Pro talents and had no weakness on their line.
We’ve come a long way.
In back to back offseasons, the Packers let starters Corey Linsely and Billy Turner leave.
In back to back offseason, they lost All Pro caliber linemen to ACL injuries.
Depth has even suffered with veteran reserves Lucas Patrick and Dennis Kelly both leaving this offseason.
Now, we’re picking up pieces and hoping for the best.
Left to right, there seems to be only one spot where we can pencil in a Day 1 starter with any level of confidence. Josh Myers seems like a pretty sure thing to start at center.
Roll the dice.
Jon Runyan is probably the highest-rated healthy guard on the team, but which side will he start on?
Royce Newman played the most snaps last year, but that was out of necessity – will he be able to fend off competition this year?
Elgton Jenkins will probably not start the season, which leaves a spot open.
David Bakhtiari, who no one assumed could possibly still be injured this long, is still doing rehab work at minicamp. Will he be ready week 1? Will he ever play again?
Even if he does come back to man his left tackle spot, who will play right tackle?
Yosh Nijman needed chip help when he was a starter and was benched in back to back playoffs when Bakhtiari was hurt. Have Packers coaches soured on him? Do they have enough confidence in him to make the switch to right tackle after playing left tackle his entire professional career? Or would they rather keep him as a backup left tackle in case Bakhtiari’s injury flares up later in the season?
And what about the rookies?
Sean Rhyan was a tackle in college, but projects as a guard in the pros. Where do the Packers want to try him? Could he be talented enough to start as a rookie?
The same questions could be asked about Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker. Are these guys even being considered for starting roles this year or are they just developmental players?
Most rookies need one spot to focus on learning, but these guys are all prospects that draft pundits saw as tackles that may be better at guard. Where will they learn first?
There’s a lot to sort out.
Sure, I’d love to see a line of Bakhtiari-Runyan-Myers-Rhyan-Jenkins, but I’m not even the least bit optimistic that happens any time soon. We could come out of camp with a lineup of Nijman-Newman-Hanson-Tom-Walker.
Injuries and free agent defections have caught up with the Packers and put the whole line in disarray.
There are very few things that would surprise me coming out of camp.
The one thing that I do have faith in is the Packers coaching staff.
I have no doubt they will cobble together five guys with enough ability to let the offense function even under the worst case scenario. I’m also confident that Matt LaFleur will gameplan appropriately based on what the guys on the field can handle and who they’re up against.
But I think we’re in for a bumpy ride before we can figure that stuff out.
There are a lot more questions than answers right now.
Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan’s Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.
Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.