GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s a tradition unlike any other. No, not The Masters. It is the Green Bay Packers who are investing heavily on the offensive line.
In the last six drafts, the Packers have selected 11 offensive linemen. They took them early (Josh Myers, Elgton Jenkins and Jason Spriggs were in the second round). They took them late (Cole Van Lanen, Jon Runyan, Jake Hanson and Simon Stepaniak were sixth for the past two years).
Expect GM Brian Gutekunst to invest again. Veteran starter Lucas Patrick signed with the Chicago Bears in free agency and Jenkins is coming off a torn ACL and could end up at the right tackle anyway.
It’s not quite the extreme of offensive tackle, but the Packers prefer race cars over 4x4s at inside positions.
Since 2006, when Ted Thompson began recruiting linemen for zone-based blocking programs, the Packers have drafted 27 offensive linemen. Of that group, 16 have found their niche in the NFL as a guard or center.
Former All-Pro center Corey Linsley is the shortest at 6-foot-2 5/8. All the others were at least 6 feet 3 1/2 tall.
In the last nine drafts, all 11 interior selections had arms over 32 inches.
The 20 yard shuttle is a key measuring stick in most positions. Combine’s historical average is 4.74 seconds. Of the 12 who did this exercise, 10 were faster than 4.70 seconds – including five who beat 4.60 seconds. Royce Newman, last year’s fourth-round pick and 16-game starter, hit 4.75. That made Caleb Schlauderaff (4.81), an unsuccessful 2011 sixth-round pick, the only significant outlier.
Say what you will about offensive linemen who rarely need to run 40 yards, but that time seems to matter. Of the 13 inside blockers who ran a 40, 10 were in 5.20 seconds or faster. That’s considerably faster than Combine’s historical average of 5.29 seconds. The outliers were center Jason Spitz (5.43), a 2006 third-round pick who led a great shuttle, guard Cole Madison (5.33), a 2018 fifth-round pick who bombed, and center Jake Hanson (5.50), a sixth-round pick in 2020 whose 40-time was marred by a hamstring injury.
Relative athletic scores is an algorithm that compares all measurable height-weight-athleticism. Only Madison and Hanson were below average in RAS. It is perhaps no coincidence that their careers have not been successful and could serve to strengthen the approach of the athletes. Of the seven linemen drafted in the past three years, Myers and Stepaniak were both coming off injuries and not having RAS. The others: Jenkins, 9.34; Newman, 8.72; Van Lanen, 8.49; Runyan, 8.49; and the wounded Hanson, 3.75.
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So who among the draft-worthy blockers might not fit based on this story?
Size (6-2 or less): Centers – Doug Kramer of Illinois (6-2).
Arm length (32 inches or less): Centers – Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum (31 7/8). Guards – Virginia Tech’s Lecticus Smith (31 7/8), Mercer’s Jason Poe (31).
Shuttle (4.75 or less): Centers – Kentucky’s Luke Fortner (4.95), Arizona State’s Dohnovan West (4.81). Guards – Kenyon Green of Texas A&M (5.12), Marquis Hayes of Oklahoma (4.78), Lecticus Smith of Virginia Tech (4.78), Justin Shaffer of Georgia (4.85), Chris Paul of Tulsa ( 4.83), Andrew Stueber of Michigan (4.90), Chasen Hines of LSU (5.00), Bill Dunkle of San Diego State (4.91).
40 (5.30 or less): Centers – Utah’s Nick Ford (5.47). Guards – Oklahoma’s Marquis Hayes (5.30), San Diego State’s Bill Dunkle (5.44).
The interesting name here is Green, a two-time consensus All-American who is considered a late first-round prospect. He started games at four positions last season, but is adapting better at guard. If the plan is to move Jenkins to right tackle, the Packers could be in the market for an instant starter at guard.
Green’s RAS was 5.92 – above the position average but not by much. He is exceptionally fast on the ball – his 10-yard split of 1.76 seconds ranking among the best in the draft class – and has long arms (34 1/8 inches) but was guilty of six unsightly penalties in 2021, according to Sports Information Solutions.
Which quarterbacks could be outboard?
Which receivers might be off-map?
Which running backs could be outboard?
Which attacking tackles could be out of line?