The Green Bay Packers are rolling into the 2023 season with a new quarterback. Jordan Love is taking over after three years of sitting behind and learning from Aaron Rodgers. While this transition comes with many uncertainties, at least they have a solid offensive line that can protect the young quarterback. However, even the offensive line is not completely set. David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are cemented as the starting left tackle and left guard respectively. Offensive line coach Luke Butkus has already stated that center, right tackle, and right guard are open for competition.
The Green Bay Packers Starters at Those Positions in 2022
Last season, the Packers had Josh Myers as their starting center for the second year in a row. At right guard, they had Jon Runyan Jr., who was drafted the same year as Love. At right tackle, the Packers had Yosh Nijman, who was signed as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Unfortunately, they were not the starters to start the season. Matt LaFleur tried out Jake Hanson, who was worse than awful in the snaps that he got. Royce Newman, somehow, started six games and was nearly as awful as Hanson.
How Can the Green Bay Packers Put Forth the Best Offensive Line in 2023?
As it stands, many believe the Packers starting offensive line will consist of Bakhtiari and Jenkins on the left side, Myers at center, Runyan at right guard, and Nijman at right tackle. That should be a pretty good offensive line, but will it be the best?
The fact of the matter is that outside of Jenkins and Bakhtiari, everyone had a challenging season when it came to run blocking. If the Packers want to improve their line, they will have to do so with the players that they have, as they did not take any offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft, nor did they sign any in free agency.
Former Packers offensive lineman Mike Wahle, on his show “On My Block,” which he co-hosts with Packers all-time leading rusher Ahman Green, discussed the idea/situation where moving Jenkins to center might benefit the Packers:
“Zach Tom just doesn’t look like he’s built to play center. Josh Myers is a guy who can play the position, he proved it two years ago. He played it last year, he just didn’t play at the level that we were expecting. It was his second year, it was a regression year. That happens. It happened to me. You just double down, get your stuff together, hopefully he comes back and has a great year.
“If there’s a situation where you to make an adjustment, and you find you, you know, if Yosh is playing right tackle, the decision is easy. If you need to get Zach into the lineup, you move Elgton over.
“If Zach Tom is playing right tackle, then I think you got an interesting situation. The guy who is playing center next is probably not one of your top six or seven guys. You put Royce in at right guard, you move Jon Runyan Jr. to center. He’s a smart guy. Cognitively, physically, he can do everything, but I don’t know if that would be a position he would feel comfortable at.
“Now you have to start putting some puzzle pieces together. I think the cleanest thing would be to move Elgton to center. If it was Day One, move Elgton to center move Zach Tom over. Again, I don’t think this is going to happen. I don’t think it should happen.”
To be clear, Wahle is not calling for Jenkins to be the starting center after Coach Butkus has already said he is the starting left guard. What he is saying, however, is that if guys get hurt on the right side, or if Myers gets hurt, Jenkins should be considered the next option at center. This way, the Packers can ensure that they will always have their top five healthy linemen on the field.
And Jenkins has played center before, remember. A center in college, he made three spot starts at the position for the Packers in 2020, the year he was named to his first Pro Bowl. If guys do go down on the line, Jenkins’ versatility will be invaluable to the team.