Quick thoughts on Packers position groups: Depth at offensive tackle

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Caleb Jones (72) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Caleb Jones (72) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis. /

As part of my training camp preview, I will be taking a closer look at each of the Green Bay Packers position groups.

In this series, I have been going position by position, sharing my thoughts on what I’ve both seen and heard during the open practices throughout OTAs and minicamp. I’ll also discuss my expectations within the position group, questions I still have, and just about anything else that is on my mind.

Next up is the offensive tackle position. If you’ve missed any of the previous articles in this series, you can find them below.


Running backs

Tight ends 

Current roster: David Bakhtiari, Zach Tom, Yosh Nijman, Caleb Jones, Jean Delance, Luke Tenuta, Rasheed Walker, and Kadeem Telfort

– Although there are question marks at other positions within the Green Bay offense, the Packers have what should be a very good group of offensive tackles. Any success that this offense may have this season is going to begin with the play of the offensive tackles and the offensive line as a whole. A solid run game to lean on will be a must to keep Jordan Love out of predictable passing situations, and of course, time in the pocket is a necessity as well.

– When on the field last season, David Bakhtiari was still playing at a high level. He ended the season ranked seventh in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric in true-pass sets and 25th out of 86 offensive tackles in zone run-blocking grade. Cutting or trading him this offseason never made any sense. He was still very good a season ago and while the Packers have options at tackle, none of them are Bakhtiari, which means without him, this unit would be worse overall–and as I mentioned in the previous section, that is not a recipe for success this season.

– In regards to Bakhtiari’s knee, he and the Packers seemed to find a good rhythm for what was needed during the week to have him ready on Sundays. Once through the halfway point of the season, his knee really wasn’t much of an issue. If you recall, the time he did miss was due to an appendectomy. Bakhtiari said recently that this was the first offseason in some time where he has been able to train normally.

– Throughout the offseason programs, Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman were alternating either drills or full days playing with the starting offense at right tackle, where playing time is up for grabs. Although we can’t truly evaluate offensive line play until the pads are on, in the small sample size that I saw, I thought Tom held up a bit better. There is without question a transition that comes with moving from one side of the offensive line to the other, and at least last season, Nijman seemed more comfortable at left tackle, where the bulk of his playing time had occurred.

– Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said that Tom would also see snaps at right guard and center, which he did during OTAs and minicamp, although never with the starters. Instead, most of his snaps came at right tackle, as expected. While Tom has the ability to play either of those positions, my guess right now is that he will be the right tackle come Week 1. Until I see otherwise, I’m going to give Josh Myers, Jon Runyan, and their experience – which we know Matt LaFleur often prefers – the benefit of the doubt.

– Bakhtiari didn’t take every rep in team drills, so at times, we saw Caleb Jones with the starting unit at left tackle. Now, this doesn’t mean he is competing for playing time this year, but I think it goes to show what the coaching staff thinks of him.

– The primary starting tackles with the second-team offense were Jones and Rasheed Walker, both of whom sometimes alternated sessions at left tackle with that unit. Given what I saw in terms of playing time and with what units, I would say that both are ahead of Luke Tenuta right now, who spent most of 2022 on the 53-man roster.

– The Packers have a lot of offensive tackle options, which includes Bakhtiari, Tom, Nijman, Jones, Walker, Tenuta, and others. While that is a good problem to have, I’m also not sure that all will make the 53-man roster, either. Those players just mentioned already account for six roster spots without including any interior offensive linemen, not to mention that, most likely, Jones, Walker, and Tenuta won’t see playing time this season. In short, given that I think Tenuta is behind Jones and Walker right now, he could be left off the final roster.

– Jones, Walker, and Tenuta, all rookies in 2022, appear to be on similar trajectories as Yosh Nijman. Nijman was an undrafted rookie in 2019 and didn’t see somewhat significant playing time until his third season in 2021. As of now, 2023 will be another learning year for Jones, Walker, and Tenuta, but any one of them could be competing for snaps in 2024. Bakhtiari could be in his final season with the team and be released in favor of salary cap savings, while Nijman is going to be an unrestricted free agent. It’s also worth noting that the offensive tackle class in next year’s draft class is supposed to be loaded.