Without David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, the Packers are thin at the offensive tackle position in terms of experience and have been forced to do some shuffling.
As Matt LaFleur said last week, things along the offensive line will remain “fluid” as he searches for the current best five. And so far, we’ve seen that on display with a few different configurations.
However, despite the constant movement, a consistent presence at left tackle has been fourth-round rookie Zach Tom.
Through the first four practices, the Green Bay Packers have utilized two different starting offensive line configurations. On days one and three, from left to right, it went Yosh Nijman, John Runyan, Josh Myers, Jake Hanson, and Royce Newman. And on days two and four, it was Tom, Runyan, Myers, Newman, and Nijman.
Tom spent his final two seasons at Wake Forest at left tackle, totaling 1,474 snaps, according to PFF. During that span, he surrendered only four sacks and 23 total pressures. His pass-blocking grade in 2021 specifically was tied for the fourth best among all tackles.
But despite his experience and level of play at left tackle while in college, many draft analysts thought that Tom would be better suited as an interior player, and I’m going to guess that is in large part due to his size and length.
At the NFL combine, Tom measured in at 6’4″ and weighed 304 pounds–a bit on the lighter side. He also has arms of 33.25,” while typically the benchmark for tackles is 34″.
However, what he may give up in size, Tom makes up for with this athleticism and technique. Tom posted an elite Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.59 out of 10. This included a 4.94-second 40-yard dash along with elite scores in the vertical and broad jumps as well as in the shuttle and 3-cone.
“I know it’s a different game, but he’s done it in college, and he’s got the athleticism, and he’s got great technique. He really does,” coach Matt LaFleur said via Packers Wire. “For what he lacks maybe in sheer size, he can really sink his hips and anchor and does a great job with that.”
As La Fleur mentioned, the college game verse the NFL can be quite different, but as offensive line coach Luke Butkus told reporters during the offseason, one of the big reasons that the Packers drafted Tom was because of his performance against Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, who was considered one of the top edge rusher prospects in this draft class.
There is still certainly a long ways to go this summer, and the pads are yet to come on at this point. But so far, Tom has acclimated well and is very much holding his own in practice against the starting defense behind his strong technique and impressive athleticism. Not knowing when Bakhtiari or Jenkins will be back, solidifying the offensive tackle positions — one of the most important positions in the game — is a must for the Packers in the coming weeks.
One of the reasons that the offense just wasn’t as effective in 2021 as they had been in 2020 is due to the injuries along the offensive line, which led to a less effective run game and more pressure on Aaron Rodgers.
Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl.