Green Bay Packers: Jared Veldheer Adds More Flexibility & Needed OT Depth

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Jared Veldheer #65 of the Indianapolis Colts against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on January 9, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Jared Veldheer #65 of the Indianapolis Colts against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on January 9, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Signing Jared Veldheer gives the Green Bay Packers offensive line more flexibility and needed depth at offensive tackle.

For the second time in two seasons, the Green Bay Packers have signed Jared Veldheer for their playoff push. This time, however, they did so very creatively.

Veldheer wasn’t signed by a team this season until he joined the Indianapolis practice squad in late December. In Week 17 and in the Wildcard Round, Veldheer was a practice squad elevation, so with the Colts losing this past weekend, he then became a free agent since he wasn’t signed to the Indianapolis 53-man roster.

This is truly a brilliant move by GM Brian Gutekunst, taking advantage of a loophole in the system and landing Green Bay even more flexibility on the offensive line along with some much-needed experienced depth at tackle.

Despite a littany of injuries this season, the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line has been the best unit in football. They’ve given up the second-fewest sacks, the fewest pressures, and they rank first by ESPN’s run blocking and pass blocking metrics.

Their versatility along the offensive line has allowed them to absorb many injuries. We’ve seen Billy Turner play both tackle positions as well as right guard. Elgton Jenkins has played every position except for right guard. Rookie Jon Runyan has played both guard positions, as has Lucas Patrick. They’ve been without their two All-Pros, David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, and Rick Wagner has come off the bench to fill in nicely on several occasions.

That’s really just a 30,000-foot view of all the movement that has taken place. There has absolutely been more, but regardless of who lines up where, the unit continues to play at a high-level. And now, with Veldheer back on the team, he gives Matt LaFleur even more flexibility for the playoffs.

Veldheer can play either tackle position — although given his age, in a perfect world, he would be the right tackle — which allows him to fill in for either Turner or Wagner if an injury occurs. This then helps keep the interior offensive line — Jenkins, Linsley, and Patrick — intact, something the Packers wouldn’t have been able to do before this signing, as Jenkins likely would have moved to tackle.

On top of that, if there is an injury to either Jenkins or Patrick, Turner can take over at either guard position, making Veldheer the left tackle. Or if Linsley is hurt, Jenkins becomes the center, Turner goes to guard, and Veldheer the left tackle once again.

Obviously, we hope that we don’t see any more injuries, but the Green Bay Packers are now much more equipped to handle an injury up front with the addition of Veldheer. And I do believe that any one of those offensive line combinations mentioned above is certainly good enough to help lead this team to victory.

In addition to the added flexibility and versatility, Veldheer gives the Packers some very much-needed depth at offensive tackle. With Bakhtiari out for the season, Green Bay did not have much tackle experience on the roster after Wagner and Turner. Jenkins, Runyan, and Yosh Nijman combined have 78 NFL snaps at the tackle position.

Sure, if needed, Jenkins could hold his own on the edge, but that then creates additional movement along the interior of the offensive line as well. And unless absolutely necessary, in the playoffs, I just don’t see Runyan or Nijman being viable options at tackle.

As long as everyone is healthy for Saturday’s game against Los Angeles, I expect the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line to remain the same, with Turner at left tackle, Wagner at right, and Veldheer coming off the bench.

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Even without Bakhtiari, this offensive line is more than capable of winning a Super Bowl. However, prior to signing Veldheer, they were one injury away — especially at tackle — from having to get creative and two injuries away from being in real trouble. Now, they have some added flexibility, which has been an advantage for them all season long, and more experienced depth at one of the most important positions in the game.