The fact he went undrafted came as a surprise to some considering he had started 32 games at tackle while at Virginia Tech, coupled with an impressive showing at the NFL combine where he would run a 4.88-second 40-yard dash, and 4.5-second 20-yard shuttle.
Those are eye-popping numbers for a 6-foot-7, 315-pound man.
GM Brian Gutekunst and the Packers front office thought enough of his off-the-chart athletic measurements to bring him in and try to mold some of that raw talent into a usable on-field player. The athletic gifts were apparent, but the technique and pad level were all too inconsistent.
Fast forward to 2021 and that decision to bring in Yosh Nijman, who was very much a project at the time, is now paying dividends for the Packers.
Entering 2021, Nijman was at a pivotal point in his career, it was essentially a make-or-break camp with the Packers. Offensive line coach Adam Stenavich has pushed Nijman to view himself as more than a prospect and to help him prove that he belongs in the league.
Nijman would go on to play 157 of the 176 possible snaps at left tackle in the preseason en route to earning an opening-day roster spot. Now due to injuries, Nijman is getting his chance to prove himself on Sundays.
It may not have been ideal, but the Packers threw Nijman into the fire against San Fransisco because they had to know what they had in the young tackle they had invested so much time into. The overall results were encouraging. It wasn’t dominating by any means, but with help Nijman was able to prevent Nick Bosa from dominating the game and/or getting his hands on 12.
Regardless of having gotten help, he played hard and slowed down defenders which allowed Aaron to get rid of the football. Overall, holding up in protection against a front like the 49ers’ was an encouraging start for Nijman.
In his second start against the Steelers it wasn’t always pretty but he was by no means a liability out there. He’s been serviceable in the absence of the team’s two best linemen and even when he does get beaten he uses his long arms and quick feet to slow down the rusher long enough to execute the play. Even though he isn’t dominating his opposition, he’s not getting flat out beaten and making the team change the offensive script.
Yosh Nijman has far exceeded my expectations in his first two NFL starts at left tackle. The Packers put forth the time and resources to help develop him into a serviceable swing tackle. He’s played hard and with effort on every snap and has proved to have been a project well worth the Packers’ time. It’s been a joy to watch him play and progress in his career, and it’s safe to assume the Packers intend to keep him around beyond 2021 as the team’s swing-tackle.