Adam Stenavich, the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, mentioned that he’d like to see the Packers add an offensive tackle or two to the mix to what’s an already impressive offensive line group.
“On the edges, we need a guy or two, just to really shore up the tackle position,” Stenavich said Tuesday.
With David Bakhtiari, the Packers have arguably one of the best left tackles in the league. Green Bay parted with Billy Turner and Dennis Kelly is still an option if the Packers fail to address the position in the NFL draft.
With Elgton Jenkins likely to miss the beginning of the 2022 season (ACL), Yosh Nijman would likely be the starting right tackle if the Packers were to play a game today.
Aside from quarterback, offensive tackle is the second most important position in football. With Bakhtiari being the only proven entity at tackle, it would not be surprising to see Brian Gutekunst add an offensive tackle or two via the 2022 NFL draft. Here are five offensive tackles that Green Bay’s general manager could target in the upcoming draft.
Abraham Lucas finished his career at Washington State with 42 starts at right tackle. Playing in Washington State’s air raid offense, Lucas has plenty of reps in pass protection. For his career, he finished with 2,195 pass protection reps.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lucas finished this past season with 477 pass-blocking reps and gave up zero sacks. Some of that can be attributed to Washington State’s quick-strike attack, but there is no denying that Lucas is one of the most seasoned pass blockers in this class.
Lucas has all the tools (length, athleticism and experience) to be a plug-and-play starter at right tackle for the Packers. He will have an official pre-draft visit to Green Bay.
Draft Projection: Round Three
Braxton Jones ended his career at Southern Utah with 29 career starts under his belt. Jones has prototypical length for the position. At 6-7, he has an athletic frame with long arms. He has quick feet to beat defenders to the spot in pass protection. As a run blocker, Jones plays with an edge and has the athleticism to climb to the second level and hit his targets.
Jones has all the tools to develop into a rock-solid NFL tackle. He has the length and athleticism, now he just needs to refine some of his technique in pass protection. The Packers have had a lot of success drafting day three offensive lineman and Stenavich would love to get his hands on a player with the tools that Jones possesses.
Draft Projection: Fourth Round
The Packers haven’t selected an offensive lineman in the first round since taking Derek Sherrod with the 32nd pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Tyler Smith could put an end to that drought.
Smith checks all the boxes. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft (21), he’s athletic and, while he never played guard in college, he could kick inside at the next level.
Smith is the Roy Kent of American football. The young man plays with an angry demeanor and wants to bury the man across from him. He’s an absolute mauler. The Tulsa offensive lineman plays with a lot of power and explodes into the man across from him with a lot of force. He has the easy athleticism to climb to the second level.
Draft Projection: Late First Round/Early Second Round
Buford is the most versatile lineman on this list. He finished his career at UTSA with 21 starts at left guard, 20 at left tackle and two at right tackle.
Buford started his career at guard, before starting eight games at left tackle and two at right tackle in 2020. This past season he started all 12 games at left tackle.
Buford has quick feet, good lateral quickness and the controlled steps in pass protection. As a run blocker he’s got the athleticism and power to create movement.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Dane Brugler earlier this year, Brugler mentioned Buford as a potential day three target for the Packers:
“Buford played left tackle and left guard in college,” Brugler said. “He’s agile-footed with body twitch and the compete skills worth developing.”
Draft Projection: Fifth Round
With his frame (6-7) and athleticism, Waletzko is worth a day three selection. He’s a long and athletic mold of clay that Stenavich would love to get his hands on.
Waletzko finished his career at North Dakota with 29 career starts at left tackle. He looks the part with his frame and long arms. He has good foot quickness and uses his long arms to thwart edge rushers. He’s a fluid athlete for a man his size and climbs to the second level without laboring.
As mentioned earlier, Waletzko has traits that you simply can’t coach. He will probably need a redshirt year before he’s ready for NFL competition. The Packers need to improve their depth at tackle and Waletzko has all the tools in the shed to develop into a starting tackle.
Draft Projection: Fifth Round