From Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater, to Christian Darrisaw and Alijah Vera-Tucker, to Landon Dickerson and Quinn Meinerz, the 2021 NFL Draft is chocked full of Day 1 starting talent on the offensive line. And for the Green Bay Packers, who include OL as a fillable need going into this upcoming season, it could not come at a better time.
Last year, GM Brian Gutekunst decided to go ahead and take three offensive linemen late in the draft, selecting Jon Runyan Jr., Simon Stepaniak, and Jake Hanson. While both Stepaniak and Hanson look to be nothing more than depth pieces at this time (that certainly could develop into solid depth), Runyan is the jewel of this group, looking like a solid inside piece for the OL unit to build around.
Adding Runyan to the mix that already included David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins created a great OL unit that helped keep Aaron Rodgers upright and Aaron Jones productive, something that will be tested with the free-agency departure of center Corey Linsley to the Los Angeles Chargers. Capped off with Bakhtiari’s ACL injury that will force him to miss time to start the year, and a strength of this team last year is already looking like a need.
Even when Bakhtiari is at full health, this line still needs to find its starting center, as well as determine if Billy Turner is going to be their full-time right tackle or if he needs to revert back to his swing-tackle role and become a man of many positions for the team.
For center options, in-house looks to be between Jenkins, guard Lucas Patrick, and Hanson, with both Jenkins and Patrick leading that charge. With Jenkins excelling as a guard, the thought to move Patrick to center may be the best bet, which would help lock down the interior spots from LG (Jenkins), C (Patrick), and RG (Runyan).
For an outside addition, the likelihood of Sewell, Slater, or Darrisaw falling to them at 29 is unlikely, and the odds of Vera-Tucker, T Samuel Cosmi, or T Teven Jenkins being there at the end of the first round are higher, but they will be in heavy demand and may require a move-up to get them.
In the second round, GB could look to go interior, as the likes of Dickerson, C Creed Humphrey, Meinerz, as well as guards Wyatt Davis and Kendrick Green are projected to go here. For tackles, players like Alex Leatherwood, Liam Eicherberg, Dillon Radunz, Walker Little, Jackson Carman, and Brady Christensen could all go this round, making for a wide list of potential targets for the Packers.
Later on in the draft, Green Bay could look to use a selection on tackles Stone Forsythe, Jalen Mayfield, Robert Hainsey, or James Hudson, guards Ben Cleveland, Trey Smith, Deonte Brown, or Sadarius Hutcherson, or centers Drew Dalman, Josh Myers, Drake Jackson, or Michal Menet, among other prospects.
The likelihood of Gutekunst using this draft to upgrade the team’s OL is almost 100%, and the odds of them using more than one selection on that position group is quite high, a good sign that the Packers are willing to go back to the well to make sure that a core piece of their roster is strong. Helping keep their key offensive pieces upright and productive is an underrated element of the game, and something that HC Matt LaFleur understands well.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23
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