Three Green Bay Packers to Keep an Eye on for 2022

2022 Green Bay Packers
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Every season, an NFL team has a few unexpected players step up and take a big leap. For some, they get their opportunities by stepping in for an injured player. While others get an opportunity because there is a lack of depth in the position they play. No matter the case, these players could very well be the key to reaching the Super Bowl. Heading into 2022, the Green Bay Packers have some candidates to be these types of players.

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Three Under the Radar Green Bay Packers to Watch Out for in 2022

The Green Bay Packers have a long list of players who have stepped up when they weren’t expected to. Players like Frank Zombo, Howard Green, Charlie Peprah, and Samkon Gado are just a few who have stepped up when many didn’t even know their names before they did. General manager Brian Gutekunst has done a solid job with accumulating talent for head coach Matt LaFleur. But with that said, the Green Bay Packers roster does have some holes at key positions. These holes can present under-the-radar players to step up and make a difference.

Along with lack of depth, injuries to key starting personnel can also lead to a backup or in some cases backups, to step in and make a difference. For a team like the Green Bay Packers, who are projected to be NFC contenders, it could mean the difference to a Super Bowl appearance. In this article, we list three players who could turn out to be key players to the Packers making a Super Bowl run in 2022.

Sean Rhyan, Offensive Tackle

Heading into 2022, there are questions at the Green Bay Packers starting offensive tackles. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari is still dealing with a knee injury he suffered in 2020. Last season, Bakhtiari played in just 27 snaps. All of those snaps came against the Detroit Lions in the Packers meaningless season finale. Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers offense, it appears that Bakhtiari still hasn’t fully recovered.

Bakhtiari isn’t the only starting tackle who is recovering from a knee injury. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Elgton Jenkins suffered a season-ending knee injury.  Jenkins, who was a standout guard in 2020, stepped in at left tackle in 2021 for an injured Bakhtiari before suffering his injury. Jenkins has seen time at both left and right tackle and has excelled at both spots. Many believe that Jenkins is the long-term answer at right tackle.

If Bakhtiari isn’t ready to go to start the 2022 season, and Jenkins still rehabbing his injured knee, there could be two holes to fill at offensive tackle. Yosh Nijman, who saw time at left tackle in 2021, is expected to fill in on the left side if both Bakhtiari and Jenkins aren’t ready to go. On the right side, there will be an opportunity for rookie Sean Rhyan to step in.

Drafted in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, Rhyan was a standout starting tackle at UCLA. He spent most of his time on the left side, but Rhyan appears to be a better fit on the right side in the NFL. If Rhyan can win the starting right tackle spot in training camp, he could be the key to making sure the Green Bay Packers continue to have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.

Zach Tom, Offensive Guard

Rhyan might not be the only rookie offensive line to have a chance to contribute in 2022. Last season, rookie offensive lineman Royce Newman started 16 games for the Packers. A fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Newman showed some promise. But along with that promise, Newman had his struggles, especially against quicker more nimble interior defensive linemen. He had enough struggles that he was benched in favor of Lucas Patrick in the Packers playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Due to his struggles, Newman doesn’t have the starting right guard spot locked down heading into 2022. Many expected that Rhyan would be his biggest competition heading into training camp. But with Rhyan possibly having to focus on tackle, it creates an opening for Zach Tom.

The Green Bay Packers selected Tom in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. During his time at Wake Forest, he spent time as the starting center as well as their starting left tackle. His ability to play both positions, and play them at a high level, drew the interest of Gutekunst and the Packers. As pointed out by Packers.com, he played 3,107 snaps during his Wake Forest career and gave up just two sacks.

With being such a good athlete, it is expected that Tom will shift to guard at the next level. His athletic ability should translate well into offensive line coach Luke Butkus’s zone-blocking scheme. Possibly an even better fit than Newman is.

Tedarrell Slaton, Defensive Line

Kenny Clark is the key piece to the Green Bay Packers interior defensive line. In his six seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Clark has registered 22.5 sacks. Not only is he the Packers best pass rusher on the interior part of the defensive line, but he is also their best run stopper.

But because Clark is so athletic and can do so many different things, defensive coordinator Joe Barry might look to move Clark around. By doing so, Barry would look to find the best matchups for Clark, taking advantage of his athletic ability. The downside of moving Clark is that the Packers will need someone to step in at Clark’s usual nose tackle position.

In this scenario, moving Clark along the defensive front would open up an opportunity for Tedarrell (TJ) Slaton. In 2021, Slaton’s rookie season, he played sparingly. But when he did, he showed some promise. He played in 17 games in 2021 registering 23 tackles (14 of them solo), two quarterback hits, and one sack. Even in his part-time role, Slaton outplayed Tyler Lancaster who for some unknown reason saw more playing time.

While Slaton doesn’t come close to having Clark’s burst, he is bigger (6’4″, 330 pounds). With his size, Slaton could present issues for opposing offenses. Slaton is still young and is still developing as a pass rusher. While Slaton might not be near the athlete Clark is, he is still a very good athlete. If Barry does switch it up with Clark, Packers fans should expect to see a lot of Slaton in 2022.