Now is the time for the Green Bay Packers to get an actual look at second-year guard Sean Rhyan in an effort to try and figure out what they actually have in him.
Elgton Jenkins has been sidelined for the last two games with an MCL sprain. In his place at left guard has been Royce Newman. It is unknown when Jenkins is going to return, but the fact that the Packers haven’t placed him on IR is a good sign that this injury isn’t long-term. However, if he is going to miss another game or two, it’s time for Green Bay to give Rhyan a closer look.
Newman has filled in for Jenkins as a starter the last two games and has allowed nine pressures during that span. For reference, that is the most on the team despite playing the fewest number of snaps on the offensive line this season. And while PFF’s grades are not the be-all-end-all, Newman ranks 67th out of 76 guards in overall grade. Whether against the run or the pass, Newman has struggled, and when things go poorly, they go really poorly for him.
Not only Newman, but the offensive line as a whole has struggled in the run game this season, not to mention that unit just got bullied on Thursday night by the Detroit Lions defensive front.
The Packers would use a top 100 draft pick on Rhyan in 2022, and he is yet to see a regular season NFL snap. His rookie year couldn’t have gone any worse as he was suspended for the final six games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Before that, he was regularly a healthy scratch on Sundays.
Rhyan showcased enough over the summer to earn a roster spot once again–although it’s not as if the Packers have a ton of interior depth either. For what it’s worth, I did think Rhyan was the more consistent player this summer than Newman.
I have no idea how Rhyan will perform. The Packers clearly feel Newman is the better option, so it’s certainly possible that Rhyan would perform worse. But with that said, while of course, the Packers want to win as many games as possible this year, we’d be naive to think that this season also isn’t about evaluating the roster to see which young pieces they can build around in 2024 and beyond.
So, doesn’t it make sense to see what the former 2022 third-round pick can do? Especially when the player on the depth chart ahead of him is really taking some lumps.
Beyond trying to see if Rhyan can be a potential upgrade for Newman this season, looking ahead to 2024, there are additional unknowns around an already thin interior offensive line unit. Jon Runyan is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Newman will be entering the final year of his rookie deal at that point, but we can’t say with any certainty that he will be on the team this time a year from now.
Is Rhyan someone who could compete for playing time next summer? Is he a capable player off the bench? Or will he not even be on the team? Regardless of what the answer is, the Packers need to find out.
It goes without saying, but the Packers have a much better idea of what Rhyan is capable of than any of us, considering that they’ve seen him in practice on an almost daily basis over the last year and a half. But one would think that as a third-round pick, the team would at least want to see him in a live game to confirm what they’ve seen on the practice field. And if not, and Green Bay doesn’t feel he can step in, even with the offensive line coming off a performance like they had against Detroit, then they should have started looking for a replacement on the roster for Rhyan yesterday.
At this point, we know what the Packers have in Newman. With Rhyan, there is still some unknown. If he isn’t going to see the field now, then he’s never going to.