In recent history, the Green Bay Packers have fielded one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Since taking over as the Packers general manager, Brian Gutekunst has put an emphasis on the offensive line. In the five drafts that Gutekunst has overseen, he has selected 11 offensive linemen. Of course, the prize gem of that group is Elgton Jenkins. Selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jenkins has become the Packers all everything offensive lineman. Gutekunst and the Packers are hoping they have struck gold once again. So far in training camp, Zach Tom has the look of another strong addition to the Green Bay Packers offensive line.
Green Bay Packers Might Have Found Another Gem in Zach Tom
While Gutekunst should be applauded for the work he has done on the Green Bay Packers offensive line, he has had some help. It isn’t a coincidence that the Packers success in selecting offensive linemen started when Milt Hendrickson joined the Packers front office.
Hendrickson joined the Packers front office as the director-football operations prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Hendrickson, a Wisconsin native, worked for the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-2019. The Ravens have made a name for themselves for selecting and developing offensive linemen. Hendrickson has brought that success to Green Bay when it comes to selecting offensive linemen for the Green Bay Packers offensive line.
Since Hendrickson joined the Packers, the Packers have selected seven offensive linemen. Out of those seven selections, four of them are current starters for the Packers. That group includes Jenkins (2019, second round), Jon Runyan Jr. (2020, sixth round), Royce Newman (2021, fourth round), and Josh Myers (2021, second round). Even with the success, they have had in past drafts, Gutekunst and Hendrickson didn’t stop when it came to the 2022 NFL Draft.
This year’s draft class included three offensive linemen. Sean Rhyan (third round), Tom (fourth round), and Rasheed Walker (seventh round) were all selected in this year’s NFL Draft. Rhyan has received most of the attention, being a standout tackle for UCLA. But so far in early training camp action, Zach Tom appears he could see the most action out of the rookies.
Tom Fits Checks All the Boxes for a Green Bay Packers Offensive Lineman
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Zach Tom is now a member of the Green Bay Packers offensive line. Former general manager Ted Thompson was a big fan of selecting offensive linemen who had the flexibility to play all across the offensive line. He had success with former college tackles, players like J.C. Tretter and T.J. Lang, who played outside in college and then were converted to other positions on the Green Bay Packers offensive line.
It appears that Gutekunst and Hendrickson have continued that approach. Jenkins was an All-American center at Mississippi State. With the Packers, he has become an All-Pro left guard and has started at center, left tackle, and right tackle as well. He has been successful in each position. Runyan Jr. was a standout tackle at the University of Michigan before converting to guard with the Packers. Royce Newman spent time at tackle at Ole Miss. Last season, he started 16 games as the Packers starting right guard.
Tom appears to be another Green Bay Packers offensive lineman who brings with him positional flexibility. He started his career as a center at Wake Forest. At center, he started 25 games earning honorable mention All-ACC in his sophomore season. In 2020, Wake Forest was in need of a starting left tackle. Tom made the shift to the outside.
He started 23 games overall at left tackle at Wake Forest, nine in 2020 and 14 in 2021. His play in his last season earned him All-ACC honors. His ability not only to play multiple positions but to excel at both of them in a top football conference, no doubt grabbed the attention of Gutekunst and Hendrickson. Tom fits what offensive line coach Luke Butkus and offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich look for in an offensive lineman. It appears the Packers will look to utilize Tom’s ability to play multiple positions.
An Early Opportunity
When Zach Tom arrived in Green Bay for OTAs this spring, it wasn’t known where he would start out. But the Packers quickly had Tom taking reps at guard, a position most expected that he would move to at the NFL level. However, when training camp kicked off, Tom found himself on the move again. This time to the outside, an area that the Packers might need help at to start off the season.
Jenkins and starting left tackle David Bakhtiari are both recovering from knee injuries. For Bakhtiari, when he, or if, he will return is still up in the air. Jenkins appears to be ahead of schedule. Many expect that if Jenkins is ready to go early, he will be one of the starting tackles when he does return. But even if Jenkins is ready to go, it will still leave one opening at offensive tackle.
That scenario opens up an opportunity for Tom. So far in training camp, Tom has received reps with the first team Green Bay Packers offensive line at both left and right tackle. Andy Herman of the Packaday Podcast has been impressed with what he has seen out of Tom. So much so, that he thinks Tom could be the second Packers offensive lineman that could be a five-position offensive lineman.
The Packers have not only fielded one of the best NFL offensive lines recently but one of the most athletic. Zach Tom has the makeup to be another great find for the Green Bay Packers offensive line. He is definitely one Packers rookie to watch heading into preseason action.