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The NFL Draft is Not Always Easy to Tackle

The Packers will probably have 10 picks in the 2021 draft. One pick in each of the seven rounds, each selection based on the Packer’s final post playoff standings. The Packers will have the 29th selection in each round. They are also eligible for 3 compensatory picks awarded to teams who lose quality free agents and do not replace them with free agents who previously played for another team. In 2020 the Packers lost Brian Bulaga, Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell. All three signed free agent contracts and played in 2020, although Bulaga missed multiple games with injuries.

The NFL draft selection process is purposely weighted against winning teams in favor of teams with losing records. This theoretically makes the job of Brian Gutekunst harder than that of Joe Douglass, GM of the Jets. But history demonstrates this simple method of attempted parity often fails.

In the 2021 NFL draft a quality offensive tackle has become a Packer priority. Rick Wagner’s Packer career is over and David Bakhtiari went from stalwart to unknown quantity with his major knee injury. Another developmental offensive tackle, a shut down corner, a defensive tackle and a speed wide receiver with good hands would be a nice start for the Packer holes that are obvious before free agency begins. Let’s look at some of the options at offensive tackle.

Packers OT Rick Wagner #71

Sep 20, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Rick Wagner (71) against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Tackles

CBS sports currently ranks their top 150 players. While the NFL draft varies every year due to the number of compensatory picks awarded, in 2020, the 150th pick was the fourth pick of the fifth round. In that group there are twenty seven players listed as offensive lineman. A number of tackles are ranked too high for the Packers to reach. Those players include:

Penei Sewell, Oregon
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Christian Darrisaw, V. Tech
Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Slater is a player many Big Ten fans will recognize. To see his abilities you must review the tape of his play against OSU’s Chase Young. Slater completely neutralized Young, a great player, who was the NFL rookie of the year in 2020.

Players that the CBS Sports list predict will be available for the Packers at 29 include 5 college tackles:

Trey Smith, Tenn.
Jalen Mayfield, MI.
Samuel Cosmi, Tx.
Jackson Carman, Clem.
Alex Leatherwood, Al.

CBS has Smith the highest ranked but he has buyer beware red flags. Smith started his college career at left tackle his freshman year. Then Smith had serious recurring health issues, blood clots in his lungs, that caused him to miss many games and practices. After his return to the team he was moved to guard. That said, he has the size to play tackle and had 19 starts at left tackle in the SEC. Smith has a total of 41 starts over his college career. Big Risk/Reward pick.

Mayfield has been projected to the Packers by a number of draft pundits. Mayfield has the size for the position at 6’5” and 320 lbs. He was a 4 star recruit from Grand Rapids Catholic High School who first committed to Minnesota, then changed to the Wolverines. Mayfield only played right tackle at Michigan and his tape is limited due to injuries and Covid. He should be labeled a high risk/reward first round pick.

Cosmi is 6’7” and just over 300 lbs. He started 34 college games in his career. He plays smart and for a man his size has quick feet. His tape is not all clean and in his sophomore year he could be beaten by speed. (See 2019 Texas v. LSU). He has improved since that game and the experience against quality competition gives him an opportunity in the NFL.

Jackson Carman was a highly recruited Ohio high school football player. He had offers from everyone. Carman stands 6’5” and 335 lbs. He has guarded Trevor Lawrence’s blind side for the past two years. There is plenty of tape on him against high quality college football players in big game situations. For the most part, he excelled. Carman received second team All-ACC recognition. His run blocking is better than his pass blocking at this point. Some pundits question his arm length and “functional length” but against Notre Dame he seemed fluid with his kick out and showed good quickness on a stunt that was not picked up by the guard. He was beaten to the inside on a play that looked like he was confused about his assignment. Pundits list him as a potential first or second round pick.

Alex Leatherwood had the pundits thinking of him as a top ten pick before the season but some poor reps at the Senior Bowl has some thinking his best position may be guard, where he started as a sophomore. As a junior he was named first team All-SEC at left tackle. In 2020 he started every game and gave up only two sacks. If Leatherwood is available, he would be tough to pass on.

Other notable tackles that are lower on the CBS list that would be available in early round 2 of the draft include:

Alaric Jackson, Iowa
Dillon Radunz, NDST
Liam Eichenberg, ND
Teven Jenkins, OKS
James Hudson, Cincinnati
Walker Little, Stanford
Robert Jones, MTST

Jackson comes from the Iowa NFL OT factory. He played left tackle at Iowa while NFL rookie stalwart, Tristan Wirf, played right tackle at Iowa. Jackson is a four year starter at left tackle. But scouts are not as enamored with Jackson, hence is potential availability to the Packers. His arms measured at 32 ½ inches at the Senior Bowl, further fueling pundits to cast him as a guard in the NFL.

James Hudson is listed on some boards as a top 5 OT prospect. He opened some eyes with good reps at Senior Bowl practices. Hudson transferred to Cincinnati from Michigan after a 2017 redshirt year and a backup right tackle with limited opportunities in 2018. He sat out most of 2019 after his hardship waiver was denied. Hudson’s starts are limited to the Bearcat’s 2020 season and his arm length maxes out at 33 inches. His technique is often described by pundits as, “raw”.

Radunz is from the NCAA Division 1 subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) but has some good tape against lesser competition. He won the Senior Bowl Practice Player of the Week award. His 2020 game tape is lacking because Covid limited the Bison’s games. Can one practice week make a first or second round pick? Radunz may be the answer, although his 2019 tape had many quality reps.

Eichenberg has anchored Notre Dame’s left side for three years. He has played against the best college football defensive players. He has not allowed a sack since early in the 2018 season. Sometimes he wins with style, sometimes he wins but looks ugly (See the Alabama game) but he continued to win; no sacks. His foot speed and nastiness have been questioned, but he has 3 years of reps and won multiple awards and honors for a reason. He’s earned them. He stands 6’8” and 302 lbs. He is already 23 years old. While CBS Sports thinks he will be available, other pundits think he may go as high as the middle of the first.

Walker Little may be the biggest mystery of the draft. He opted out of 2020 after missing 2019 with a significant knee injury. Expect him to drop.

Teven Jenkins has top tier strength and tape confirms his mauler reputation. Movement and footwork are questionable. There is tape (see Texas game) where he dominated potential first round pick Joseph Ossai. He may be a better guard than tackle.

Jones measured 6’5” and 319 lbs at the Senior Bowl. Despite winning most of his reps during the week pundits are already saying he is an NFL guard. He has 33 inch arms and a 79 inch wingspan. Any team that drafts him will try him at tackle first if they have a need.

There are also a couple of small school notables that are potential high picks. Spencer Brown from Northern Iowa has been ranked as high as the number seven tackle in the draft by some pundits. His is athletic, making kicks and second level transitions look smooth on tape. Brown is 6’8” with an 82 3/8 inch wingspan and hands that are 10 3/8 inches. Pro Football Network described his athletic ability as, “rare”. Brown also lost 2020 to Covid and his 2019 tape showed the need to improve angles and hand placement.

Finally, local prospect Quinn Meinerz created quite a buzz at the Senior Bowl with some dominating reps. The Wisconsin-Whitewater product was voted best lineman on his Senior Bowl squad. Meinerz is a guard/center, not a tackle prospect, but you have to love his workout video.

The good news for the Packers is that this draft has depth at the offensive tackle position. The bad news is a good percentage of potential picks have limited 2020 reps and will need time to develop into dependable NFL blind side protectors. Next up, Cornerbacks.

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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20 Comments

  1. PF4L February 23, 2021

    Quinn Meinerz: “Let the belly breathe”

    Reply
    1. PF4L February 23, 2021

      Fernando Martínez
      2 weeks ago
      I want this guy as the heir of Corey Linsley! 🤘
      ****************************
      Division III to NFL starter?
      .
      SMH….¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Reply
  2. Howard February 24, 2021

    Agree with your top four positions of need. OT, CB, D-line, and WR. I would add ILB. If I was forced to put the positions of need in order of need, I would list them as CB, D-line, WR, OT and ILB.
    .
    As I wrote a few articles ago I believe that when the Packers released Wagner so soon, that indicated to me that the Packers believe they have a healthier and better replacement already on the roster. That does not mean that the Packers shouldn’t draft an OT. I think they should. I just don’t think it is a first round top priority.
    .
    I do trust the Packers since Hendrickson was hired, to better evaluate, procure, and draft offensive linemen. I also trust the offensive line coaches to have the offensive line players prepared to play. I think every offensive lineman that played last year out performed their previous years performances. Some of that may be scheme and being familiar with the system, but the position coaches had a lot to do with the improvement.

    Reply
  3. Mick February 24, 2021

    I agree, the top need after the King fiasco has to be CB. As for DT, they need to pick one in the earlier rounds to help bolster that front seven, which has been a weakness for years. Adding a stud next to Clark would not only take some double teams off Clark but, make life easier for the young linebackers too. I’ve heard Barry favors a strong front and has a reputation as a good linebacker guy.. it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

    Reply
  4. PF4L February 24, 2021

    I think a lot of the improvement on offense is due to being in the 2nd year of the system, like you noted. That isn’t discounting individual player improvement, but as you noted…. i think everyone being on the same page and working together A-Z brought this offense to what is was.
    .
    You maybe correct about Wagner and the Packers feeling they have someone in house. The problem is…with Bakh uncertain at this point, with Lindsley leaving, now Wagner. That really effects your depth. Every good player you lose…you’re decreasing your depth. To Gute’s credit…you can’t switch O line positions like the Packers did without having depth. Versatility = depth.
    .
    I’ve praised Gute for providing this team with better depth and that was real and deserved, but….sometimes, easy come, easy go.
    .
    With King, we already had bad depth at corner, so that problem is compounded.
    If Alexander ever gets hurt bad and misses a lot of games…..i don’t even want to think about it
    .
    Kirksey’s gone, like Wagner…that hurts your depth, you lose a depth player because now your starting him.

    .
    If Jones and Williams leave….depth problem, not to mention a talent regression. Those two were like a well oiled machine. Best friends…on and off the field. Hard to replace that. Not to mention how Rodgers relied on them.
    .
    I read a lot of people’s comment on Packer websites.
    Lately from a lot of people, here and elsewhere, that Gute needs to find some starters in this years draft. I agree, but….
    I hear that from some of the same people that defend Gute on past picks of drafting bench players high, starting with Gary…………now they demand starters?……….ALL RIGHTY then…smh.

    I kind of shake my head and roll my eyes when i read that because…..
    Shouldn’t that be the goal every draft, especially when you have a short window?

    Reply
  5. Mick February 24, 2021

    Good points here PF4L; Looking back on this past year, depth and versatility is what saved their bacon. Every team is going to have needs every year as far as starters go; but good depth is hugely important.

    Reply
  6. PF4L February 25, 2021

    As a few of you may know, i’ve been visiting another site.
    Just trying to “win friends” :)
    .
    Anyhow….in a new article i found, the author is campaigning to go after a edge rusher in the first round.
    I read the article….then grinned in disbelief thinking…really?
    For entertainment purpose only…here’s my response
    *******************************************
    Here’s the wrinkle….
    .
    How many resources are the Packers going to spend on edge rusher’s in a period of 23 months
    .
    We currently have 2 signed edge rushers to contracts over 100 million. Then… 42 days later after these cats were signed, Gute thought it a great idea to draft a project edge rusher with the 12th overall pick.
    .
    Maybe i’m wrong but isn’t the 12th best player in the NFL draft supposed to be a starter?
    Maybe….in his 3rd season?
    Stay tuned
    .
    We have one good corner…..one. We have another corner who has never graded out higher than 62.5 in 4 years. And….he’s a starter!!
    PFF graded Alexander as the #1 QB in the league, they graded King as the 99th cornerback.
    People….That’s a bench player…at best.
    .
    Isn’t cornerback more of a need than using our 1st round pick on another (4th) edge rusher?
    .
    Hell…maybe with the 2nd round pick we can trade our 3rd round pick and move up in the 2nd round. and draft another QB project.
    .
    Sound about right?

    Reply
    1. PF4L February 25, 2021

      *corner

      Reply
    2. Howard February 25, 2021

      I read that article/player evaluation up to the point of the player having retired from college football due to concussions. At that point I quit reading. I had to go back and see who commented. :-)

      Reply
      1. PF4L February 25, 2021

        I know…right.
        .
        This kid doesn’t have enough flags?
        .
        There is such good case for the Packers not to draft him, i didn’t even have to go to his injury issues and the possibility his heart isn’t in it.
        .
        Maybe he’ll go to the combine and do really well and we’ll watch everyone go ape shit…lol.
        .
        The silly season is definitely here.

        Reply
    3. Ferris February 28, 2021

      That 2019 draft was weak at the top. Looking back of course you make different decisions. But GB did get Savage and Jenkins. Sad thing is DK Metcalf went 64th. Woulda Shoulda Coulda. At least they didn’t take Haskins. Nice pick Snyder.

      Reply
      1. PF4L February 28, 2021

        Credit to Gute for Alexander and Elgton. His best drafts of getting immediate starters.
        .
        I think if he drafted Dexter Lawrence or Jeffery Simmons instead of Gary, it would have been epic.
        .
        I don’t hold much value at all for the rest of the draft after round two.

        Reply
  7. Ferris February 25, 2021

    We have a trade…Patrick Surtain II is available like TJ Watt was but Gute trades down for someone we all have never heard of or a project or another QB just for fun.

    Reply
    1. Mick February 26, 2021

      According to Packers Wire, the Packers are showing interest in U. of Miami TE Brevin Jordan. .”The Packers who drafted TEs’ Sternberger & Deguara in the 3rd round of the last 2 drafts; could see Jordan as another athletic- versatile TE who could be a mismatch type weapon in the passing game.” I’ve got a better idea; sign and pay Tonyan!!!!!! We need to spend another high round draft pick on a TE; like we need to lose another NFCCG! With CB, DL, ILB, OT and WR as the biggest areas that need improvement, we’ll see if Gutes’ statement of making the most of what’s left of the Rodgers era, is legit. Wouldn’t surprise me if the Packer brass is thinking—-” we can never have enough good TEs on the team” and pull that trigger. Maybe he could be as unproductive as Sternberger— who knows! SHIT!

      Reply
      1. Ferris February 26, 2021

        Yeah the TE was on a list of their pre draft meetings. I just don’t understand.

        Reply
        1. PF4L February 26, 2021

          Gute in the draft room is kinda like the old days….
          .
          When Brett would have the ball at the end of a close game and your on the edge of the seat hoping he doesn’t fuck it up.

          Reply
          1. Stiggy March 1, 2021

            “When Brett would have the ball at the end of a close game and your on the edge of the seat hoping he doesn’t fuck it up.”

            ***

            Lol. I still remember seeing the name “Jordan Love” I had the draft on mute for one reason or other….the range of emotions from “excited they are trading up”….to remembering a story i had read earlier in the day that the packers would trade up for Jordan Love…..to the disbelief that the talking head who predicted that was right.

            ***

            I lost my shit over Gary too…but he really started to make an impact and has POTENTIAL to live up to his draft position….key word…POTENTIAL.

            Reply
          2. PF4L March 1, 2021

            You’re right Stigg, he showed some potential, some flashes, but going into his 3rd season (hopefully as a starter) he can prove himself.
            .
            Important Note: The 12th pick of the draft should have certain expectations…not potential. Potential is for rounds 3-4.

            Reply
  8. PF4L February 25, 2021

    “Future caps will be affected because the league and the union have agreed to “borrow” from those caps to offset this year’s reduction. Since the 2021 cap won’t have dropped as much as it organically would have without the negotiated “floor,” the difference between what the 2021 cap is and what it could have been will need to be applied to future caps. ” – Dan Graziano

    Reply

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