The Green Bay Packers have one of the best offensive lines in the league. With pending free agents and possible cap casualties, it could look vastly different in 2021. Could they look to draft an offensive lineman early in 2021?
Through three weeks of the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers have one of the most potent and efficient offenses in the league.
Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP level. They have a great one-two punch at running back. Matt LaFleur is playing chess while opposing defensive coordinators are playing checkers.
They are averaging 40.6 points per game and have only punted five times. It’s worth noting that Davante Adams has missed a game and part of the team’s week two victory due to a hamstring injury.
A big reason for the team’s early-season success on offense can be credited to the offensive line.
Through three weeks Rodgers has had a clean pocket and rarely been touched. According to Pro Football Focus, the Packers offensive line has yet to give up a sack or a quarterback hit. Yes, he was sacked on Sunday, but that was not credited to the offensive line.
The Packers OL is yet to allow a sack or a hit this season.
Only OL with 0 combined. pic.twitter.com/a7Jlbfy89h
— PFF (@PFF) September 28, 2020
That same offensive line has done a great job of opening up holes for Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and occasionally A.J. Dillon. The Packers are currently averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and second in the league with 515 total rushing yards.
The truth can not be controversial and the fact of the matter is the Green Bay Packers offensive line has been the best in the business through three weeks.
That stout offensive line could look a lot different when the 2021 season rolls around.
David Bakhtiari, the best left tackle in the league is set to be a free agent. Corey Linsley, one of the best centers in the league will join him on the open market. Billy Turner and Rick Wagner both could be cap casualties.
The Green Bay Packers would be absolutely foolish to let the best left tackle in the league walk. My guess is they get a deal done with Bakhtiari soon. However, will they be able to lock up Linsley? What will the right side of the line look like when the 2021 season opens?
Regardless of what happens, it’s a safe bet that Green Bay Packers general manager, Brian Gutekunst will look to add at least one offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft. A player to keep tabs on is Trey Smith.
The offensive lineman for Tennessee currently has 32 career starts under his belt. As a true freshman, he became the first freshman to start at left tackle for Tennessee in 30 years. That season he also started at both guard spots.
As a sophomore in 2018, Smith started the first seven games at left tackle. Smith then missed the rest of the season due to blood clots in his lungs.
Smith returned in 2019 and started 12 games at left guard. In his return, Smith was rock solid, as he didn’t allow a sack all season.
Smith is the bully on the block. He’s an absolute mauler in the run game. Smith isn’t just looking to block the man across from him. He’s looking to bury them. He has a large, powerful frame and does a great job of reaching the second level.
“Smith’s thick frame and power allow him to assert his will on defenders,” Blake Toppmeyer the Tennessee beat writer for the Knoxville News Sentinel said. “He provides a powerful push off the snap and excels at climbing to the second level of the defense to clear running lanes. Smith plays with a mean streak and will finish blocks.”
Smith isn’t as refined in pass protection as he is in the ground game. Last season he gave up zero sacks, three hits, and eight quarterback pressures according to Pro Football Focus. In the previous two seasons however, he gave up a combined nine sacks.
Smith needs to work on his technique in pass protection. It’s an area that scouts will be watching closely in the shortened 2021 season.
“He’s perhaps not quite as strong in pass protection,” Toppmeyer said. “Smith admits that he needs to play with better control over his body and not over-extend or lunge too much while in pass protection.”
Smith’s versatility will be an attractive trait for NFL teams. He’s best suited to play inside at the next level but has the capability to kick outside and play either tackle position.
“Smith proved throughout the 2017 and 2019 seasons that he’s one of the best offensive guards in college football,” Toppmeyer said. “He played left tackle in 2018 and wasn’t as elite.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the skills to develop into a fine NFL tackle, but at least at Tennessee, guard is where he thrives.”
If the Green Bay Packers look to add an offensive lineman via the draft they will likely be targeting a player that’s versatile like Smith. The road-grading lineman would be a plug and play starter and could give the Packers a solid duo at guard for the foreseeable future.