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Packers Hosting Michigan Offensive Lineman on Top 30 Visit

Draft visits are well underway, and with the Packers having a need on their offensive line, could they look to replace a departed offensive lineman from Michigan with another Michigan man?


There is no rest for the weary this offseason.

Despite an active first day of free agency for the Green Bay Packers, there is still more work to be done.

They added two new starters in safety Xavier McKinney and running back Josh Jacobs.

They also lost four starters including offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr, who had started at guard for them for the last three seasons. 

According to Bleacher Report's Ryan Fowler, Brian Gutekunst has begun doing some homework on finding someone to help fill the void left by Runyan.

That player is former Michigan guard Zak Zinter. 

Who He Is

Zinter was part of the offensive line that helped the resurgence of the Michigan football program over the last three years.

He was named a captain in 2023 and earned two All-American honors, including a unanimous selection in 2023.  He was arguably the best offensive lineman in 2021 and 2022, where both teams won the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in the country.

Zinter could have gone to the NFL a season ago, but elected to remain at Michigan as part of a core that claimed to have unfinished business after a 51-45 loss to TCU in the 2023 College Football Playoff.

Zinter and his teammates would be rewarded for staying in college with a third straight victory over Ohio State, a third consecutive Big Ten Championship, and finishing their mission with a national championship. 

Zinter, unfortunately, would miss everything from the fourth quarter of the Ohio State game onward. He suffered a gruesome leg injury that knocked him out for the remainder of Michigan's season, and some of the pre-draft process. 

Zinter did not participate in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine due to the injury but expects to be able to do some movement drills at Michigan's Pro Day. 

“Honestly, everyone’s asked about it, but it’s been quick,” Zinter told the Detroit Free Press. “They see me moving around great, feeling good. We had some medical yesterday and finished up some medical today, but I’m going to be ready to roll in a month. I’ll be football ready. So, it’s not a huge concern with a lot of teams just seeing me move around really well.”

How He Fits

Zinter is a mauler in the run game, which is something the Packers could be looking for with the recent addition of Josh Jacobs.

Jacobs has fit better in the gap and power run schemes as opposed to the wide zone run game that Matt LaFleur has employed during his time in Green Bay.

Even if the Packers stick with those core principles, Zinter has experience in both run schemes under Jim Harbaugh and Sherrone Moore's complex blocking schemes.

Zinter is presumably going to be picked in the Top-100, which would insert him in a competition with Sean Rhyan as the team's starter at right guard.

Rhyan rotated with Runyan during the second half of the 2023 season but was never able to fully unseat Runyan for the full-time job. 

If Zinter did not win the starting job at right guard, he'd enter the league as interior depth on the offensive line, which the Packers are perilously thin at right now.

With Runyan gone, and Yosh Njiman likely going elsewhere as well, the projected backups in Green Bay have played zero snaps outside of Royce Newman.

Newman has really struggled whenever he's been asked to play extended snaps and fell behind Rhyan as the primary backup on the interior a year ago. 

Zinter would come in with a chance to start, but also have the opportunity to grow as the team's primary backup on the interior. 

Round Projection

Zinter's projection is tough at this stage because of the injury he suffered and the uncertainty surrounding his health. 

The thought prior to the season was that Zinter could sneak into the end of the first round. 

That seems unlikely now that Zinter has missed as much time as he has, but he could be a target for Brian Gutekunst on the second day of the draft.

Gutekunst recently took Sean Rhyan with a third-round pick and could do the same with Zinter to give Rhyan some competition for the right guard spot next to Zach Tom.