Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers have a lot of holes to fill. The Packers were not players in free agency, in large part due to cap restraints. Because of that, Green Bay will need to bolster its roster through the draft. By many regards, cornerback may very well be the first position they address. However, there is some belief that another position should top cornerback on the team’s needs. Offensive tackle is a spot that the Packers need reinforcements at, and it could be addressed with the Packers first-round pick.
Could the Green Bay Packers Draft an Offensive Tackle in Round One?
Obviously, cornerback is a position that general manager Brian Gutekunst might address with the team’s first-round pick. After all, opposite Jaire Alexander, there are some major questions. The team re-signed Kevin King this off-season, except he should not be handed the starting job. Still, what the King re-signing does allow for, is time. Cornerback will need to be addressed at some point, whether via draft or free agency. But with King being brought back, it could allow Gutekunst to spend the Pakcers first pick on a different position.
That position, in our opinion, is an offensive tackle. Offensive tackle is a position that is in need of help. For the near future and beyond.
Packers Have Questions at Offensive Tackle
That position may very well end up being offensive tackle. Green Bay has one of the best, if not the best starting left tackle in the NFL in David Bakhtiari. His elite play earned him a massive new contract in 2020. Unfortunately, he won’t be available for at least the first part of 2021.
Late in 2020, Bakhtiari suffered a season-ending knee injury. And chances are, his injury will cause him to miss at least part of the 2021 season. While there is a slim possibility that his recovery will be faster than most expect, realistically, he will miss at least the first part of 2021.
With Bakhtiari out, starting right tackle Billy Turner will hold down the left side, as he did in 2020 when Bakhtiari got hurt. His play was solid but wasn’t nearly at the level of Bakhtiari. Turner will do fine in the short term as the Packers count down the days until Bakhtiari’s return.
With Turner shifting to the left side, it creates a hole at right tackle. The Packers haven’t signed any outside replacement as of yet. So they will need to find someone currently on the Packers roster or draft someone to fill the position.
Packers Potential Roster Replacements
With Bakhtiari out and Turner moving over to the left side, head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Adam Stenavich will need to figure out who will start on the right side. There is one option LaFleur and Stenavich can put into place. Except, the move might weaken other parts of the offensive line.
Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins saw time at left and right tackle last season. Jenkins performed really well when he made the move, as he is the most athletic lineman on the team. Be that as it may, Jenkins moving leaves a hole at a position he absolutely dominated at. If Jenkins is once again moved over to right tackle, it is expected that second-year player Jon Runyan Jr. would take over at left guard. Runyan is nowhere near the same player as Jenkins, though he did play well in limited snaps in 2020.
If the Packers want to keep the rest of their offensive line intact, they will be forced to use a high pick on an offensive tackle. Luckily for the Packers, this draft has a good group of offensive tackle prospects, as several of these prospects may be available by 29th overall.
That being said, here are some possible prospects who could still be on the board when the Packers are on the clock…
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood is a player that was mocked to the Packers with their first pick in a seven-round Packers mock draft. And who would oppose, as Leatherwood is a perfect fit for the Packers offensive line. Not only was he a standout at Alabama, but he played multiple positions for the Crimson Tide. The Packers love versatile offensive linemen and Leatherwood brings just that, and at a high level too. Who knows if Leatherwood will still be on the board by the Packers pick? If he is though, Green Bay may jump on the Alabama product.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Teven Jenkins of Oklahoma State is another tackle prospect that the Packers could draft with their first pick. Jenkins, like Leatherwood, would have a very good chance of starting on the right side while the Packers wait for Bakhtiari to return. Jenkins would bring something different than Leatherwood. He possesses a mean streak and isn’t afraid to mix it up. The Packers haven’t had that type of player since T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton played for them. Jenkins would bring something that the Packers have been missing. He isn’t a dirty player, but he isn’t afraid to mix it up and play until the whistle blows. The only question is whether or not he will still be available by the Packers selection.
Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
As opposed to Jenkins, Jalen Mayfield brings another set of intriguing skills. Gutekunst likes young, former big-time recruits, and Mayfield was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. He enters the draft after his redshirt sophomore season at Michigan.
Mayfield has great feet and is an elite pass protector. He will need to get stronger for the pros, but he has the athletic ability to play both on the left and right sides. The Packers also don’t have a true swing tackle. Mayfield might fit into that category once Bakhtiari returns.
As the Green Bay Packers eye Super Bowl contention once again, they will need to fill multiple holes during the NFL Draft. And with injuries and depth lacking along the offensive line, it should not surprise anyone if the Packers select an offensive tackle with the 29th overall pick.
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