GREEN BAY, Wis. – Here’s a look at the Green Bay Packers’ offensive tackles situation ahead of the NFL Draft, including pertinent history that suggests which draft-worthy prospects might not be a target.
State of the Packers
In a perfect world, the Packers would be set. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari would be back from his torn ACL in time to be in starting lineup for Week 1. After missing six games (including playoffs) in 2020, he’d play every meaningful snap in 2021. Billy Turner, who looked at home at right tackle after struggling at right guard in 2019, would remain anchored in that spot and also play every meaningful snap. That would mean that the No. 3 tackle would be blocking on extra points rather than playing almost 60 percent of the offensive snaps, as was the case with Rick Wagner last year. This, of course, isn’t a perfect world. The tackle depth chart includes only three players: Bakhtiari, Turner and former undrafted free agent Yosh Nijman.
Draft Position Ranking
1 out of 11. Offensive tackle might not be a “skill” position but it is a “premium” position. Just look at how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers overwhelmed the Packers in the NFC Championship Game and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. With both teams forced to dig into their depth for their biggest game of the season, they were overwhelmed. Oregon’s Penei Sewell, Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw and Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins are expected to be first-round picks. They lead a group of a dozen tackles who should go in the first three rounds. And that’s not even discussing the guard-tackle versatility of USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker and Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, two other first-round options, and Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield and Clemson’s Jackson Carman, potential second-round picks.
History Says You Can (Maybe) Forget These Guys
In the 15 drafts in which either Ted Thompson or Brian Gutekunst have drafted for zone-style offensive systems, Green Bay has selected 11 players who wound up playing primarily offensive tackle. For the most part, they’ve been racecars.
The historic Scouting Combine average in the 40-yard dash is 5.26 seconds. Of the 10 drafted tackles to run a 40, all 10 were faster. Is that a coincidence? If not, that would exclude Michigan’s Mayfield (5.38), Cincinnati’s James Hudson (5.29), Stanford’s Walker Little (5.27) and East Carolina’s D’Ante Smith among potential Day 2 targets, as well as Iowa’s Alaric Jackson and Oklahoma’s Adrian Ealy (both 5.37) among the Day 3 contingent. However, perhaps it’s an amalgam of testing numbers. Little ran a superb 4.59 in his 20-yard shuttle, so perhaps that he’s just a bit off the 40 time won’t matter.
Speaking of the 20-yard shuttle, that’s long has been a key piece of scouting information for the team. The historic Combine average is 4.75 seconds. Of the nine drafted tackles with a shuttle time, only Jamon Meredith was slower but he turned in a sizzling 4.99 in his 40. Those who ran a slower shuttle than the average were Hudson (4.81), Mayfield (4.91), Jackson (4.92), Ealy (4.87) and Kentucky’s Landon Young (4.89).
Arm length is always a big deal when it comes to tackles. The famed 34-inch threshold, however, hasn’t been a big deal for Green Bay, with five checking in somewhere in the 33s, with Bryan Bulaga’s 33 1/4-inch arms being the shortest. That’s a good thing for Green Bay, because this tackle class is long on talent but short on length. James Hudson (32 7/8), Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg (32 3/8) and BYU’s Brady Christensen (32 1/4) – all viewed as legit Day 2 options – fall short of 33 inches. That might mean a move to the guards board.
Added together, the guess is Mayfield, Hudson, Smith, Ealy and Jackson will be off the board while Little (because of his shuttle) and Young (because of his 40) will stick.