NFL teams are always looking for good depth on their roster. For the Green Bay Packers, their offensive line has shown they are equipped with quality depth. The Packers have one of the best starting offensive lines in the NFL. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, as of now, is the standout member of the offensive line. However, second year do everything offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins isn’t too far behind Bakhtiari. Still, it isn’t just their stars that is making the Packers offensive line so good. The depth the Packers have this season at offensive line is helping make their offense one of the best in the NFL. One member that has become a key contributor for the offensive line as of late is a rookie. Jon Runyan Jr. has stepped in and produced when called upon.
Jon Runyan Jr. Becoming a Big Part of the Packers Offensive Line
Second year Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich has done a stellar job since taking over the position prior to last season. Stenavich took over for long time Packers offensive line coach James Campen. Not only was Campen a long time Packers assistant, but he was considered one of the best at his position by his peers. Stenavich had his work cut out for him when he took over.
But he has shown, in just his second year in charge of an NFL position, that he was up for the task. He made the transition to the Packers running a zone blocking scheme a smooth one. Along with the new scheme, he got veterans like Bakhtiari and starting center Corey Linsley to buy into his scheme.
Stenavich has also gotten the Packers younger offensive lineman to produce as well. Of course what Jenkins has done only in his second year has stood out. Bute he has also helped develop guard Lucas Patrick in becoming a starter on the Packers offensive line.
His coaching has also carried over to rookie Jon Runyan Jr. While Runyan Jr. hasn’t started a game, he has been able to step in when called upon and helped the Packers offense not miss a beat.
Head of the Class
General manager Brian Gutekunst hasn’t gotten much out of his 2020 NFL draft class this season. So, far the only picks who have been contributors this season are linebacker Kamal Martin, safety Vernon Scott, and guard Jon Runyan Jr. Out of the three, it can be argued that Runyan Jr. has been the best of the three.
Gutekunst spent a sixth round pick on Runyan Jr. in this year’s draft. Runyan Jr. was a standout tackle at the University of Michigan. While he was a tackle at Michigan, the Packers envisioned him to play guard at the NFL level. It was expected that he would take this season to learn the new position and of course, adapt to the speed and power at the NFL level.
However, Jon Runyan Jr.’s play and injuries to starters have forced him into action. Due to injuries, he has been forced into action in six games. In the past two games, against the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, he has played 50 snaps in each game. In those snaps, he has more than held his own and the Packers offensive line has held up.
His play has been so good, it has many wondering if Jon Runyan Jr. will be a starter on the Packers offensive line in 2021.
Possible Future Starter on the Offensive Line
In the past two games, Linsley has been forced out because of injury. With Linsley injured, the Packers shifted Jenkins from left guard to center. Runyan Jr. then was inserted into Jenkins starting left guard position.
Jon Runyan Jr. isn’t in Jenkins class. But when he has stepped in at left guard, he has held his own. His ability to hold down the position has many wondering if he will be a starter in 2021.
The Packers are facing a decision with Linsley. He is in the last year of his contract and will be a free agent in 2021. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the NFL’s top center. But with the Packers recently signing Bakhtiari and defensive tackle Kenny Clark to new deals, money will be tight in 2021. Linsley’s contract demands might be too rich for Gutekunst and the Packers.
If they do allow him to depart, they have options to fill his spot. Jenkins is showing he is more than capable of filling his role and Patrick has experience at center as well. Along with that, with Runyan Jr. showing he is a capable contributor at guard it might make Linsley’s departure easier to swallow.
Sixth round draft choices who play the offensive line don’t grab many headlines. But Jon Runyan Jr. is showing that they can be just as important as other rookies who play different positions. His play has allowed the Packers offense to continue to be one of the best in the NFL.
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