Green Bay Packers: Jake Hanson Making Final Roster is Major Surprise

There always seems to be a surprise or two on cutdown day, and I have to say, the Green Bay Packers deciding to keep second-year center Jake Hanson on the initial roster is about as big of a surprise as you will see.

Hanson was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers, where he had ample experience as a four-year starter for Oregon.

Hanson started 49 games over his career with the Ducks, and during his final three years, which included 1,233 pass-blocking snaps, he allowed just two sacks and three quarterback hits, according to PFF ($$). During the pre-draft process, here is what Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline had to say about Hanson in his scouting report:

“Jake Hanson was a consistent force for Oregon who can line up at center or guard. He’s tough as nails and gets the most from his ability but Hanson is a limited athlete with marginal upside.”

As a rookie, Hanson began the season on the practice squad before being placed on IR–effectively ending his season. He re-signed with the Packers in January after initially being released at the end of the season, and to put it simply, with this crowded offensive line room, he came into the 2021 season as an afterthought.

And that really remained the case throughout OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, and the preseason. Hanson didn’t really stick out on the practice field or during games, reporters weren’t mentioning how good he looked, or during interviews with the Packers’ coaching staff, no one was asking or talking about Hanson.

While, yes, the Green Bay Packers were in need of a backup center behind Josh Myers, it was Lucas Patrick and Jon Runyan who were taking many of the snaps at center with the second and third-team offenses during practice and the preseason games.

There was really no indication whatsoever that Hanson was on his way to earning a roster spot. In fact, the lasting memory from this preseason that many of us might have is on that final drive before halftime in Buffalo, where it began with a low snap from Hanson that resulted in a Jordan Love sack.

A short while later, as the play clock was expiring in the red zone, Love was clapping his hands in a desperate attempt to call for the football, but Hanson had no idea, and a delay of game penalty ensued. Not to mention that over the course of all the training camp practices, there were some miscues on exchanges between Hanson and the quarterback as well.

However, with all that said, Hanson’s numbers from the preseason tell a different story, one in which helps illustrate why the Green Bay Packers decided to keep him around. According to PFF, in 50 total pass-blocking snaps, Hanson allowed no sacks, just one hit, and only one quarterback pressure. By PFF’s grading system, he was the second-best pass-blocking offensive lineman on the team this preseason, he ranked eighth as a run-blocker, and was the fifth-best offensive linemen by overall grade.

Now, look, I know that the PFF grading system is far from the be-all-end-all, but in this instance, it might help showcase what the rest of us were missing. Another factor in all of this might be that the Packers just didn’t like what they were seeing from Patrick and Runyan at center, and Hanson was better. Or if they’re in a pinch with some injuries, with Hanson on the roster, Green Bay can keep Patrick and Runyan at guard instead of creating more shuffling with a position change.

As always, there are likely a number of factors that went into this decision, but Hanson making the final roster is another prime example of how little we know of what’s actually going on inside the walls of 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Out of all the roster predictions that are released, I’m not sure that anyone saw this move coming.