Packers bolster offensive tackle depth in recent mock draft

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has been very willing to spend multiple draft picks on the offensive line position group–most often on Days 2 and 3 of the draft. In a recent mock draft from Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire, the Packers bolster their tackle depth by selecting Peter Skoronski from Northwestern.

Skoronski stands 6’4″ and weighs 315 pounds. He has over 2,200 career snaps with the Wildcats, all of which have come at left tackle. In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Skoronski allowed four total sacks and 27 pressures, 20 of which came in 2021.

This past season was by far his best, however, with Skoronski allowing just one sack and six total pressures, although he was flagged five times. Out of all tackles in 2022, Skoronski ranked fourth in PFF’s pass-block efficiency metric while ranking 12th overall in run-blocking grade.

Skoronski is rated as the third-best offensive tackle in this draft class, and the 18th-ranked player overall by The Draft Network. For more on his game, here is what Kyle Crabbs wrote in his pre-draft report.

“Expectations for Skoronski will be the same even amid different positional forecasts—he should be a starter from day one. I do see some potential challenges to being a positive starter immediately, as he’ll either need to acclimate to setting against NFL-caliber linemen each and every week on the edge or he’ll be charged with re-calibrating as an interior lineman. But by year three of his rookie contract, expect to see a quality starter up front.”

As Crabbs alludes to, depending on the team, Skoronski could be a tackle or a guard at the NFL level. If the Packers view him as a guard, I simply don’t see them spending the 15th overall pick on an interior offensive lineman.

As an offensive tackle, the Packers do seem to have plenty of depth heading into 2023. As I wrote recently, I do expect David Bakhtiari to be back this season–ultimately, the cap savings aren’t enough to justify cutting him. Yosh Nijman will also be back in 2023 as a restricted free agent, along with Zach Tom, proving to be a capable starter. Ideally, Elgton Jenkins will stay at guard, but he is another option, along with Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones.

On the flip side, the draft is about planning ahead, and tackle becomes a position of need pretty quickly. Although I expect Bakhtiari back in 2023, he very well could be gone in 2024. The same goes for Nijman, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024. As already mentioned, Jenkins should stay at guard, and while Jones and Walker have a lot of talent, we have no idea yet if they will become starting-caliber players.

As we look back at the 2022 season for the Packers, the play of the offensive line had a massive impact on the offensive output. From weeks one through nine as the Packers dealt with injuries and movement up front, the offense really struggled.

Then from weeks 10 through 17, the offensive line was healthy, giving Aaron Rodgers time and allowing the run game to flourish. Not coincidentally, Green Bay averaged over 26 points per game during that stretch. In Week 18, however, a big part of the Packers’ offensive struggles against Detroit was due to the poor play of the offensive line.

While the run game and Christian Watson drew a lot of attention, the offensive line play was the catalyst to the Packers’ success. Offensive tackle is a premier position in football and one almost always worth adding to in the draft.