Who should start on Packers offensive line vs. 49ers?
The Green Bay Packers are getting healthier by the day. After limping through the back half of the season with an offensive line made up of second- and third-choice players, there’s a possibility Green Bay will enter the NFC divisional round with everyone available aside from Elgton Jenkins.
Of the eight offensive linemen at their disposal who have started games this season, RT Billy Turner remains the only question for Saturday’s game. Although he practiced in full all week, which is a strong indication that he will be good to go.
Assuming Turner (and everyone else) is available, the Packers may be starting an offensive line that we haven’t seen at any point this season.
They’ll be going up against a formidable San Francisco 49ers pass rush. The Packers will have hopes of neutralizing Nick Bosa for the second time this season.
So what does the ideal starting five look like for Green Bay? Let’s begin with the obvious candidates.
Position locks: LT David Bakhtiari, C Josh Myers
Ironically, the two guys who missed the most time this season are the two locks for starting on Saturday.
Both Bakhtiari and Myers saw starting reps in Detroit two weeks ago — with 27 and 32 snaps respectively — and with no setbacks to report, you can pretty much guarantee these two will be on the field in their familiar positions versus the Niners.
The last time these teams met, Yosh Nijman was making his NFL debut, and Matt LaFleur’s offense had to contribute significant help in the form of chip blocks from running backs and double-team help from Marcedes Lewis.
LaFleur should have relatively little to worry about with his All-Pro left tackle back in the lineup, which you would imagine will open up the passing game a little more.
Dennis Kelly or Billy Turner at right tackle?
This is an interesting question. In my opinion, while Kelly hasn’t been an upgrade from Turner at right tackle, there has been virtually no difference between the two.
Each guy has played at an above-average level. Turner may have the edge because he’s been in the system longer, and well… he was the starter.
However, any uneasiness regarding his injury may prompt the Packers to stick with what’s working, and keep the veteran Kelly in the lineup.
Who are the two best candidates for guard?
The Packers made it pretty evident against the Lions in Week 18 that they believe Jon Runyan Jr. and Lucas Patrick are their two best options at left and right guard entering the playoffs.
Rookie Royce Newman was the only constant starter in the Packers offense for the first 16 games of the season, and now it looks like he’ll be the odd man out.
It was a solid rookie season for Newman with some ups and downs along the way, but truthfully you can’t ask for much more from a fourth-round draft pick. He may find himself back in the starting lineup to begin next season if Elgton Jenkins is still recovering after ACL surgery.
There is also a potential scenario on Saturday where Billy Turner could come in and play right guard. If the Packers believe that RT Dennis Kelly is a better player than Lucas Patrick, there’s an off-chance that they could kick Turner into the guard spot, where he started four games in 2020.
The best five players
The way I see it, the Packers are in a great spot in the trenches right now. Not only do they have high-quality starters back in the lineup, but now they have depth players who each have valuable starting experience, and will be ready to come in at a moment’s notice.
I believe the Packers starting offensive line will look like this:
- LT David Bakhtiari
- LG Jon Runyan Jr.
- C Josh Myers
- RG Lucas Patrick
- RT Billy Turner
We haven’t seen this exact offensive line at any point this season, but this is the best five, save for Jenkins.
Yosh Nijman can back-up at left tackle if David Bakhtiari suffers any mishaps. The same goes for Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Meanwhile, Royce Newman will be on call if any injuries happen on the interior.