Green Bay Packers: Last Season Shows Importance of OL Depth

Green Bay Packers' offensive guard Lucas Patrick (62) during training camp Monday, August 19, 2019, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packers Training Camp 081919 Jc0164
Green Bay Packers' offensive guard Lucas Patrick (62) during training camp Monday, August 19, 2019, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packers Training Camp 081919 Jc0164 /

Final roster cuts for the Green Bay Packers — and the rest of the NFL — are looming, as they are now less than a week away. This, of course, is the time of the year that fans and analysts spend time pontificating on who should be on the final 53-man roster—I know I’m guilty of this as well.

When it comes to the Green Bay Packers, there is always the possibility of a veteran cut. We’ve certainly seen it happen before.

One veteran, in particular, who has been discussed in this fashion among the fan base as a cut or trade candidate is Lucas Patrick.

Patrick entered camp as one of a few offensive linemen competing for the two guard openings. However, he — along with Jon Runyan and Ben Braden — has failed to secure one of those roles at this time—or at least not that we know of. Rookie Royce Newman appears to be the front-runner at right guard, but for left guard, who knows?

Patrick had a rough showing against Houston, to say the least, while at right guard, and although he was much improved from a pure blocking standpoint against New York, he was still called for two penalties while at center.

NFL teams are always looking for upgrades along the offensive line, and Patrick is someone who could absolutely be a starter elsewhere. This is why trading him could be on the table as the Packers try to get a draft pick in return.

If he’s traded or cut, Green Bay also saves $1.975 million in cap space this season, according to Over the Cap.

It’s for these reasons that some believe it would be in the Packers’ best interest to move on from Patrick. And although I do think it’s a possibility, I also don’t think it’s a great idea either, even if they can secure an additional draft pick and save on some cap space.

Last season, this Packers’ offense was the best in football by points per game scored and DVOA—two things that wouldn’t have been accomplished without the offensive line playing at such a high level. Pick a metric, and there’s a good chance that Green Bay had one of the best offensive line units in football.

Even more impressive is that they did this while battling several injuries and constant shuffling for much of last season.

According to PFF ($$), the Packers had nine different offensive linemen take snaps in 2020. Billy Turner saw snaps at both tackle positions as well as right guard. Rick Wagner came off the bench on a few occasions to take over at right tackle and he also had 25 snaps at left tackle.

Lane Taylor, who was a starter Week 1, saw his season end against Minnesota. As he does, Elgton Jenkins played every position except for right guard while Patrick played both guard positions.

On top of that, the Green Bay Packers were without Corey Linsely for a period of time and David Bakhtiari was out on two separate occasions.

Yet despite all of that, this unit gave up the second-fewest sacks, the fewest pressures, and ranked first by ESPN’s pass-blocking and run-blocking win-rate metrics—that’s not common given all the injuries and movement. This is truly a credit to the depth and versatility of this group.

And it’s also a prime example as to why the Green Bay Packers should keep Lucas Patrick.

Even as a backup, he can provide tremendous value off the bench, being able to play both guard positions as well as center. We don’t know what injuries will occur, and with potentially two rookies starting along the interior — Newman and Josh Myers — it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a veteran to lean on.

Not to mention that there is still the very real possibility that Patrick is one of the starters.

Patrick hasn’t performed as well as we would have hoped this summer, but in 2020 we saw that he can be trusted as a starter.

Last season, Patrick allowed just three sacks in 650 pass-blocking reps, with two of those sacks coming in one game against Carolina. He would also allow only 21 total pressures.

Out of 86 eligible guards, Patrick ranked 12th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric and 31st in overall run-blocking grade. By ESPN’s pass-blocking win-rate metric, Patrick was sixth among guards.

Because Patrick hasn’t been at his best this preseason, coupled with the potential trade compensation that the Green Bay Packers could receive in return, along with the cap savings, I get why his name is brought up as someone who should be left off the final roster.

With that said, you don’t see bad offensive lines winning Super Bowls, and in my eyes, there’s no such thing as too much depth up front—2020 is the perfect example of that.