Green Bay Packers must draft offensive lineman in rounds one or two

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the Green Bay Packers during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the Green Bay Packers during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

With the NFL draft quickly approaching, the Green Bay Packers have a few needs in particular to address, but priority needs to be given to the offensive line position early on.

The 2018 season marked the second straight season that the Green Bay Packers had missed the playoffs which is something we never thought we would see during the Aaron Rodgers era. While there is plenty of blame to go around, the offensive line play, particularly from the guard position was a big contributor to these issues.

Although General Manager, Brian Gutekunst spent some big money in free agency on the position, there is still a lack of depth and long-term solutions on the current roster. With three draft picks inside the top 50 this year, the Green Bay Packers are in a great spot to add some talented playmakers to this roster. And with a number of very good options available at the offensive line position, they need to take advantage and address the need.

The struggles of the 2018 season

Last season the Green Bay Packers offensive line gave up an average of 3.3 sacks per game which tied for the second most given up in the NFL. Now, with Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, a higher sack rate is a possibility given he can hold on to the ball a bit long at times, but don’t be mistaken, Rodgers was under plenty of pressure which oftentimes came from up the middle.

At left guard, Lane Taylor had a down year especially as a run blocker but his overall performance had dropped off from the steady increase we had seen from his 2016 and 2017 campaigns. According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor gave up eight sacks in 2018 compared to a combined four during the previous two seasons.

While Taylor had his struggles on the left side, it’s safe to say that the right guard position primarily split between Justin McCray and Byron Bell was an absolute mess. Defenders were able to get into the backfield quite easily and at this point, neither should be starters for the Green Bay Packers.

What this constant pressure did was cause Rodgers to lose confidence in his protection. There were multiple times where Rodgers’ eyes would drop from his receivers downfield onto his line to check for pressure. This is a sin in the football world and is yet another reason that the passing game struggled so much last season.

Current players on the roster

When healthy, the Green Bay Packers have three fantastic players along the offensive front. Corey Linsley at center is one of the most reliable players on the team. Whether it’s his play on the field or his availability, as he played in 100 percent of Green Bay’s offensive snaps last season, the Packers know they have a great player who is playing at a very high level.

More from Dairyland Express

Then we have Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari who make up one of the better tackle duos in the league at one of the most important positions in all of football. While Bulaga is phenomenal when on the field, there are concerns about his availability. It’s realistic to think that we won’t get a full 16 games out of Bulaga and at the moment, there isn’t a reliable option to step in and fill the role in his absence. This will also be the last year of his contract with Green Bay and as of now, his replacement isn’t on the roster.

In addition to the defensive acquisitions in free agency this year, Gutekunst did sign Billy Turner to a fairly large contract. At this point, it is safe to assume that he will take over at right guard but what makes him valuable is his versatility on the offensive line.

However, there are concerns when it comes to Turner. The Green Bay Packers will be his third team in six seasons largely due to inconsistent play early on in his career, but he did take a big step forward in 2018 specifically in pass protection and hopefully he can continue that growth into this season. He also lacks experience as a starter, over his five-year NFL career, Turner has made just 25 starts, with 23 of those coming in the 2015 and 2018 seasons.

As far as backups go, Gerhard De Beer, Alex Light, and Adam Pankey are a few names that we could see on the 53-man roster come week one of the regular season. Is there potential with this group? Of course. Should a top player from the draft still be brought in? Absolutely. There is still a lot of unknowns with these players and taking an early round pick will give Green Bay a blue-chip prospect that can make an immediate impact while providing a long-term solution.

Options in the draft

When it comes to the Green Bay Packers first selection at 12, there are three players in mind that would be worthy of that pick. Andre Dillard, Jawaan Taylor, and Jonah Williams. All three of these players are tackles that could step in if needed at either tackle or guard for the 2019 season but would have time to develop and eventually replace Bulaga.

Some other names to keep an eye on that will be sprinkled in throughout the remainder of the first round and possibly into round two are Dalton Risner, Cody Ford, Garrett Bradbury, Erik McCoy, and Chris Lindstrom. All of which could make an immediate impact from day one, as well as be a staple on the Green Bay offensive front for years to come.

Next. What has happened in Green Bay?. dark

Even amongst all of the changes to the roster and the new coaching staff coming in, this Green Bay Packers team will only go as far as Aaron Rodgers takes them. So keeping him upright, not just this season but for the rest of his time in Green Bay, needs to be a top priority and should be addressed in the first or second round of this year’s draft.