1 Question Facing Each Green Bay Packers Player: Offensive Tackles

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 15: David Bakhtiari #69 of the Green Bay Packers in action in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 15: David Bakhtiari #69 of the Green Bay Packers in action in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Continuing on with my series, as I take a look at the one big question facing each member of this 2021 Green Bay Packers team, we arrive at the offensive tackle position.

David Bakhtiari: When will he be back?

David Bakhtiari suffered his ACL injury prior to the Green Bay Packers Week 17 matchup with the Chicago Bears. Recovery from ACL injuries are quicker now than it was in the past, but the timelines can vary depending on the player.

During OTAs and mini-camp, Bakhtiari was not suited up or working out with the team, but he was on the sidelines going through drills, and I have to say he looked quite good and was moving well. In fact, it gave me some hope that he could be ready for Week 1.

On the flip side, when talking with reporters, Bakhtiari said he was about “50 percent done” with his recovery, which is obviously a much different timeline. So take that as you will.

My guess is that he won’t be ready for Week 1 against New Orleans, but I don’t expect him to miss half the season either. We will see, and fingers crossed that his recovery continues going well.

Billy Turner: Can he build upon his 2020 performance?

As the team’s primary right guard in 2019, Billy Turner took his lumps, allowing nine sacks and 52 pressures, according to PFF ($$). However, 2020 was a different story.

Turner’s versatility and high level of play were invaluable to this Green Bay Packers team last season. Turner took 363 snaps at left tackle, 244 at right guard, and 423 at right tackle. His sack total would drop to just two during the regular season, and the pressures he allowed fell to 25. He also finished the season as the third-best tackle by ESPN’s pass-block win rate metric.

By several metrics, this was the best offensive line unit in football last season and a big contributor to the overall success of this Green Bay Packers offense. To continue playing at a high level, they’ll once again need Turner to do so as well.

Royce Newman: Can he earn starting reps?

Depending on when David Bakhtiari is back and what the configuration of the offensive line looks like, there is at least one starting spot up for grabs this summer and possibly two.

Throughout OTAs and mini-camp, the Green Bay Packers gave rookie fourth-round pick Royce Newman plenty of reps with the starters at both guard positions as well as at right tackle. Will he continue to be given those opportunities during training camp? And can he take advantage to earn some playing time?

Cole Van Lanen: Will he earn a spot on the Green Bay Packers 53 man roster?

This is a very deep and versatile group of offensive linemen that the Green Bay Packers have put together, so much so that I don’t believe it’s a guarantee that sixth-round pick Cole Van Lanen makes the initial 53-man roster.

For one, I do believe that he would benefit greatly from essentially red-shirting this year on the practice squad, specifically adding muscle and developing as a pass-blocker.

But it’s also not unusual for a rookie sixth-rounder to spend that first season on the practice squad. In recent years we’ve seen Dexter Williams, Jake Hanson, and Simon Stepaniak all do that. Oftentimes late Day 3 picks just need some additional time—it certainly doesn’t mean that he can’t become a starter in the future.

Just like everyone else, Van Lanen will have the opportunity to earn his roster spot this summer along what is a very competitive offensive line unit.

Coy Cronk: Can he be the surprise UDFA?

There always seems to be at least one undrafted rookie who makes a splash during training camp, and perhaps this year that player could be Coy Cronk.

Cronk is a very experienced player coming out of Indiana and Iowa but has battled injuries the last two seasons. According to Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated, one scout is very high on Cronk, saying that he has “starting ability.”

Cronk will have to prove that he can stay healthy and show that he has regained his past form, but with Bakhtiari and Nijman as the only true tackles on this team, there is a path to Cronk sneaking is way onto the 53-man roster.

Yosh Nijman: Where is he at in his development?

To steal a phrase from Aaron Rodgers, where Yosh Nijman is at with his development, is a “beautiful mystery.” While he did make the initial 53-man roster last season, OL coach Adam Stenavich would say that Nijman has a long way to go in his development, and I don’t believe that Green Bay had any intention of playing him unless they were in a serious pinch.

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We all know and have heard about the upside that Nijman possesses with his size and athleticism, but when will we see it? Not that he has to be a starter, by any means, but this feels like a really big summer for him, and if he hasn’t shown that development or taken a step forward in Year 3, Nijman is very much a cut candidate.