The Green Bay Packers haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since selecting Derek Sherrod with the 32nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. They could end that drought in the 2021 NFL Draft.
As it stands right now, the Green Bay Packers have one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League. David Bakhtiari is one of the best left tackles in the league. With him sidelined, the versatile Billy Turner has filled in for him admirably.
Elgton Jenkins is one of the best young linemen in the league. The former second-round pick can play anywhere across the offensive line and has proven to be one of the more valuable players for the Packers.
Corey Linsley is having another stellar season at center. Rick Wagner has proven to be a valuable addition to the team at right tackle. Lucas Patrick has provided steady play at right guard.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Green Bay offensive line could look very different when the 2021 season kicks off.
Bakhtiari is set to be a free agent and could command the type of deal that the Packers are unwilling to match. Linsley is also a free agent and the Packers may opt to move Jenkins to center or they may feel comfortable having Patrick be the starting center in 2021.
If Bakhtiari and Linsely both sign elsewhere who will replace them and what will the starting offensive line look like in 2021? It could be Turner-Jenkins-Patrick-Jon Runyan Jr-Wagner.
If the Packers opt to re-sign both Bakhtiari and Linsley it’s very possible that Turner and Wagner are both cut to save some money. Which would lead to a starting offensive line looking like, Bakhtiari-Runyan Jr-Linsley-Patrick-Jenkins.
No matter what happens with Bakhtiari and Linsley, the offensive line is likely going to be addressed early in the 2021 NFL Draft. Here are five names that the Packers could target in round one, assuming they are picking in the 28-32 range.
Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
Slater was a three-year starter for the Wildcats. He would have been a four-year starter, but he opted out of the 2020 season.
Slater started his collegiate career at right tackle and has transitioned to left tackle. Due to his lack of length, he could kick inside to guard at the next level.
“He will likely have to kick inside to guard at the next level,” Nick Price, a contributor for multiple NFL draft outlets said. “That said, the inside-outside versatilty is very important.”
While some in the scouting community believe he’s going to have to kick inside due to his size and arm length. There are others that believe he could excel on the outside at the next level.
“Rashawn is a tackle, I don’t care what anyone says,” Manyweather said. “At some point, teams have to realize they’re missing badly on offensive linemen because they’re looking at bullshit things that are ancillary. Don’t get me wrong, things like length are important when trying to make up the gap. But Rashawn understands technique and body position extremely well. I’ve been doing this a long time and rarely miss on this – he’s a tackle.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Slater is one of two offensive tackles to post a grade of 85+ last season in pass protection and run blocking. The other tackle to do it was Penei Sewell. That’s good company to be in.
“Slater shows incredibly quick feet and shows great lateral movements,” Price said. “He combines that with a physical mentality to maul guys at the point of attack.”
Slater has the versatility to play anywhere along the offensive line. A team can never have enough versatile offensive lineman, and with the Green Bay Packers possibly having a need at tackle and guard, Slater is an attractive option in the first round for Brian Gutekunst.
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum is one of the best centers in college football. Which is impressive considering he’s only played the position for one full year.
Linderbaum came to Iowa as a defensive lineman and made the transition to center in 2019. That season he started 13 games and gave up just one sack and two hits during his first season at the position.
Linderbaum is an athletic lineman that delivers devasting blocks in space. He was a state qualifier in wrestling during high school and it shows, as he plays with great leverage.
Linderbaum’s name will rocket up team’s boards if he declares. The redshirt sophomore is only 20 years old and could be the starting center for the Green Bay Packers for the next 10-plus years.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
Vera-Tucker is another versatile offensive lineman that could be an attractive option for the Green Bay Packers. In 2019, Vera-Tucker started 13 games at left guard for the Trojans. This season he has kicked outside to left tackle, a position he played during high school.
Vera-Tucker has good movement skills and lower body quickness. He’s able to get to the second level and always hits his target. In pass protection he’s a brick wall. According to PFF, Vera-Tucker allowed just seven pressures in 2019.
Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Lucas looks the part, standing at 6’7″ and weighing in at 328 pounds. Lucas enters the shortened 2020 season with 26 career starts under his belt.
Lucas is so good in pass protection. As a redshirt sophomore, he rated as the second best pass-blocking tackle in the country according to PFF. In 2019 he rated as the best pass-blocking tackle according to PFF. He’s got quick feet and is able to beat edge rushers to the spot.
If the Green Bay Packers are looking for their future starting right tackle in the backend of the first round, Lucas could be their target.
Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
Smith is a versatile offensive lineman that can play tackle or guard. During his first season at Tennessee he started at left tackle and spent time at both guard spots.
In 2018, Smith started the first seven games at left tackle and then missed the remainder of the season due to blood clots in his lungs. Last season he started 12 games at left guard and didn’t allow a sack.
Smith is a road grader as a run blocker. He has a large, powerful frame and looks to bury the man across from him. He’s a tone-setter in the run department. If the Green Bay Packers are looking for a long-term fixture at right guard, Smith could be the man they target late in the first round.