Zach Tom flourishing in difficult role as Packers 6th offensive lineman

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;Green Bay Packers guard Zach Tom (50) blocks Chicago Bears defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (55) during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;Green Bay Packers guard Zach Tom (50) blocks Chicago Bears defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (55) during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

As the sixth offensive lineman on this Green Bay Packers team, rookie Zach Tom has had a difficult job this season, oftentimes not knowing when he’s going to be called upon or even what position he is going to be playing. However, he has held up very well along the way.

Tom has appeared in five games this season, three of which have come at left tackle, two at left guard, along with a brief stint at right guard. In Week 1, he entered the game at left guard for an injured Jon Runyan. In Week 7 against Washington, he didn’t find out until Sunday morning that he would be starting at left tackle. In Week 8, with Jenkins sidelined, it was back to left guard.

Then the following game in Detroit, Tom came in at right guard initially when Runyan briefly left but then found himself at left tackle in the second half for David Bakhtiari. He then started at left tackle against Chicago, and once again, on short notice.

With being a rookie who is learning a new offense, what Tom has done and the stability he has provided while playing various positions at a moment’s notice is no simple feat.

"“Zach Tom coming in and doing what he’s done as a rookie, and some of the last-minute fires he’s been thrown into, has been pretty impressive,” said Brian Gutekunst via Packers News when meeting with reporters prior to the bye week."

During that stretch of five games, which have included 168 pass-blocking snaps, Tom has allowed just one sack and five quarterback pressures, according to PFF ($$). Tom played center and left tackle at Wake Forest, and although he doesn’t have the prototypical size or length that’s often preferred at offensive tackle in the NFL, his athleticism helps to make up for it.

By all accounts, Tom has played well when called upon, but it is worth noting that especially early on — and understandably so — he was aided by the play calls. The Washington game is a prime example of this, where the Packers leaned heavily on the quick passing game to get rid of the football. Tight ends have also been asked to help block at times as well. Not surprisingly, following that game against the Commanders, LaFleur mentioned that without Bakhtiari, the playbook just isn’t as deep. However, more recently and as Tom gains experience, we saw less restrictive play calling from LaFleur against Chicago.

"“I think Zach’s got a really big future in this league,” said Matt LaFleur via “The versatility he’s shown, the athleticism, obviously the intelligence, to be able to go from inside or out but to be able to go left to right that’s pretty remarkable, especially for a young player who maybe doesn’t have the amount of banked reps throughout the course of whether its practices, OTAs, training camp, whatever it may be. But I think he’s definitely shown the moments not too big for him.”"

At this time, it is unknown when Bakhtiari will be back on the field. Before the bye week, LaFleur did mention that it could be “a while,” which means more opportunities for Tom at left tackle in the coming weeks–although this time, he will have a week’s worth of preparation beforehand, something he hasn’t had much of.

Looking ahead, Tom is establishing himself as a core member of this Green Bay Packers offensive line in the coming years, but the question right now is, where?

There is the possibility that Bakhtiari is playing his final season in Green Bay, which would create an opening at left tackle. It’s also assumed that Elgton Jenkins will be back but he is set to hit free agency. And who knows, as a former center perhaps the Packers feel that Tom could provide more steady play there than what Josh Myers has, and then moving Myers to guard would be best.

These are all questions that will be figured out once the season comes to and end, but regardless of how things shake out or where the Packers need Tom to take over, he will be ready.

"“I’m just preparing like a starter at any of the five positions,” said Tom earlier in the season. “Whether it’s tackle, guard, or center. Wherever they decide to put me, I just have to be ready to go.”"