3 significant questions facing Packers offensive line in 2023

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
3 of 3

1. Is another top five finish within reach?

For the first time since 2015, Green Bay is returning its starting offensive line from the previous season, headed by five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari.

In Jordan Love’s first year starting, his blindside blockers will be two of the best in football. Bakhtiari and left guard Elgton Jenkins have recaptured their Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber play after 2021 injuries.

Following four knee surgeries in 20 months and only 27 snaps in 2021, Bakhtiari returned to All-Pro form in 2022. He didn't allow a sack or a hit all year and with 339 pass-blocking snaps, he only surrendered 10 hurries.

Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in 2021 and upon returning to the Packers he was tried out at right tackle in 2022, where he struggled. Only once he moved back to his natural left guard spot did he regain his 2020 Pro Bowl form. Due to this, he was rewarded a four-year, $68 million contract to remain in Green Bay long-term.

The Packers are again positioned to be strong at right tackle as well. Yosh Nijman and Zach Tom will battle throughout preseason to earn the starting role but both bring positional versatility that makes them valuable assets regardless.

Per PFF, last season at right tackle Tom posted an 82.4 pass-blocking grade, proving he is capable of locking down a premium position. His strong performances across nine games as a rookie give him a real shot to be the opening-day starter. He is currently splitting first-team reps with Nijman.

Nijman, a fourth-year man, has logged starts at both tackle positions and while not grading out as elite, he’s only allowed three sacks at left tackle and five at right tackle since entering the league. It’s his run blocking that got him in trouble and brought down his 2022 overall PFF grade to a modest 63.1.

He will again play a role in Green Bay’s offensive line success, likely starting the season at right tackle, after receiving a second-round RFA tender from the team this off-season. If he starts a majority of games, he’s due for a substantial payday after the season.

What the team decides to do at center and right guard will be an intriguing storyline to unfold throughout preseason. Tom is simply forcing his way into starts, somewhere on the line. Worst-case scenario, he will fill in for plenty of snaps across every position and step into a starting role if anyone were to struggle or experience injury.

At center, Myers is arguably the most intelligent offensive lineman the Packers have and that should prove beneficial for a first-time starting quarterback. If Myers can clean up his snaps and run blocking leading up to the season to hold onto his starting job, it will help alleviate the creeping “bust” fears.

As for right guard, while Jon Runyan Jr. has been extremely valuable, the Packers appear open to evaluating who will maximize their starting lineup.

One of the Packers' strengths along the offensive line this season is the versatility in their depth. If Myers or Runyan Jr. struggles, or injuries occur, the Packers will be able to slide in Tom, Newman, or Rhyan at numerous positions, and Nijman can confidently kick over to left tackle.

Jordan Love being a more mobile quarterback may provide new challenges for this group to adapt to early on. That said, the ceiling for this unit will depend on players like Myers, Tom, and Runyan Jr. taking the next step. Should they all progress positively while Bakhtiari and Jenkins avert further injuries, the sky's the limit to how high this group can finish in their first year blocking for Love.

PFF has this unit starting down five spots from 2022 as the eighth-best offensive line entering the season. Should everyone stay healthy, they're eyeing another top-five finish.

More Packers news and analysis