Green Bay Packers: O-Line Best & Worst Case Scenarios

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 27: Rick Wagner #71 of the Detroit Lions plays against the New York Giants at Ford Field on October 27, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 27: Rick Wagner #71 of the Detroit Lions plays against the New York Giants at Ford Field on October 27, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers
Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers signee, (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /


In all, there are six new offensive linemen in camp this season. One, Rick Wagner, was a free agent signing. The trio of Jake Hanson, Jon Runyan Jr., and Simon Stepaniak were drafted. While Zack Johnson and Travis Bruffy were undrafted free agents.

Rick Wagner

Rick Wagner was the lone free agent offensive lineman signing and was brought in for the purpose of replacing Bryan Bulaga. He is a downgrade from Bulaga, who was a top tier right tackle last year, especially in pass protection. However, Wagner isn’t a pushover either. In 2018, he had an approximate value – Football Reference’s attempt to boil down player performance to one number – of 8, which was higher than Bulaga’s approximate value of 7. 

Wagner is part of the uncertainty on the right side of the line. There has been talk of Billy Turner’s ability to move out to tackle, and if he did that and proved he could do it better than Wagner, then that would be Wagner’s definite worst case. His best case is to win the right tackle job and stay healthy for the entirety of the season.

Jake Hanson

Hanson was a sixth-round pick out of Oregon where he started 49 games and didn’t allow a sack in his first three seasons. In his senior year, he only committed one penalty in 746 snaps played. The big key for him is being the true backup center. He is the only other committed center on the roster, but Lucas Patrick can and has played there and has NFL experience.

If Hanson can show the coaching staff that he can hold his own at center, that would be huge for him. Linsley may not get hurt for long periods of time, and hopefully, he doesn’t, but he will likely get some bumps and bruises that cause him to come out of games, if even just for a few plays.

If Hanson can take those snaps as a rookie, it would be great for his development, and if he did well in that role, the Packers could feel better about letting Linsley walk in free agency. Being the only other real center, he will almost definitely make the team, so his worst case would just not being able to see the field at all.

Jon Runyan Jr.

Runyan is a versatile lineman who played both guard and tackle in college, but will probably play guard almost exclusively for the Green Bay Packers. Oh, and he’s the son of former Pro Bowl tackle Jon Runyan.

As a sixth-round pick, he’s not expected to be the same caliber of player that his dad was, but he does have an NFL pedigree, and that gives some people high expectations for him. The guard position is pretty muddied up right now with Turner, Jenkins, Taylor, and Patrick all in front of him.

He’ll probably have to wait until at least next year to get his shot at real playing time, but things can be unpredictable, and maybe he’ll impress in camp and climb to the top of the depth chart or at least be a top backup. There is the chance he gets cut because losing a sixth-round pick would not be the worst thing in the world, and the Packers could bear that loss.

Simon Stepaniak

Stepaniak is a natural guard who played there in 31 games in college at Indiana. Like the other two, he was a sixth-round pick, but very well may be the best prospect of all three. This is because an ACL injury before the Gator Bowl put a huge question mark over his head. Missing the bowl game and having concern over his injury status made his draft stock drop. Like Runyan, he will try to navigate his way up a crowded depth chart, with the looming threat of the slight chance he may be cut if he can’t perform or if his knee doesn’t look strong enough.

Zack Johnson

Zack Johnson was one of the best FCS offensive linemen in the country over the last two years, being named to the second team at right tackle in 2018 and the first team at right guard in 2019. It’s that versatility that gives him an outside shot at making the team.

For any players that are on a roster bubble, being able to do multiple things is a great way to create value. With that being said, making the roster at all is the best thing that can happen to him, and he will likely not see the field unless there is a long string of injuries. He has a good chance at the practice squad and could stick there.

Travis Bruffy

And now after a long string of guards, Travis Bruffy, a 6’6″ undrafted rookie tackle out of Texas Tech. In his freshman year of college, he blocked for Pat Mahomes. He was also one of the 15 student-athletes from power five conferences to attend the 2019 NCAA Autonomy Conference, helping to make big decisions about college sports.

The depth at tackle is underwhelming once it gets past Bakhtiari and Wagner. The other four tackles are guys I have in the “returners on the bubble” category, so he will have a better chance than Johnson to make the roster, but again, just making the team is his best outcome this year.