The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching and Green Bay Packers fans are eager to know who the team will select with their first-round pick. The Packers presently hold the 29th pick in the first round although GM Brian Gutekunst has made a trade in the first round of each of his first three drafts with Green Bay.
This is the next in a series of articles looking at players the Packers may be interested in selecting at this year’s draft. The only players listed here are realistic possibilities for the Packers to pick at 29 or if they trade up or down slightly from that spot.
Today we will examine offensive tackles since the Packers have a definite need at this position. The returning starters are David Bakhtiari and Billy Turner although Bakhtiari is still rehabbing from a serious knee injury and is unlikely to be ready to start the season. The Packers released last year’s swing tackle, Rick Wagner, so they will need a player who can fill in until Bakhtiari is ready to return.
Depth is an issue after Wagner’s release. Yosh Nijman is a big physical specimen with great measurables but he remains raw and unproven. Elgton Jenkins has played tackle and could slide over in a pinch but that would weaken the guard position. Jenkins may also be needed at center depending on how the team tries to fill that vacated position. Jon Runyan, Jr. played tackle in college but is projected as a guard in the NFL and that’s where he played last season.
The Packers need depth at this position and they need to add a swing tackle who can fill in immediately. There are several quality tackles that should be available when the Packers pick at 29. Players on this list are likely to be available at that spot or be available if Gutekunst chooses to trade up 10 or fewer spots to grab that player.
So here is a list of possible cornerbacks the Packers may take in the first round. They are not listed in any particular order.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Jenkins has good size and he has the versatility the Packers usually look for in offensive linemen. He has played guard and both left tackle and right tackle in college. Gutekunst has placed a premium on versatile o-linemen.
Jenkins also has a mean streak and likes to dominate defenders. He is a strong pass blocker and does a good job of getting to the second level on sweeps and screen passes.
He does need to work on his technique and sometimes gets beaten inside when he gets too aggressive with defenders but this is something that can be improved with proper coaching. Most scouts are high on Jenkins’ long-term potential in the NFL.
Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
Eichenberg stands 6’6” and weighs 305. He may be the tackle who is most ready to step in and play as a rookie which could be important for the Packers until Bakhtiari is healthy enough to return.
Most scouts feel Eichenberg is a better run blocker than pass blocker which may not fit as well with the Green Bay offensive scheme. He is more of a finesse pass blocker and that may cause issues for him against bigger, faster and more experienced NFL pass rushers.
He has long arms and moves his feet well which means he has the raw physical tools scouts look for. He may need to get a little stronger to thrive in the NFL.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw is a strong run blocker who improved as a pass protector in 2020. He started three seasons at left tackle for the Hokies and improved each year.
The 6’5”, 315-pound Virginia Tech alum played in a run heavy offense and will need some time to develop his pass protection in the NFL. He is excellent on sweeps and screens and has great mobility for an offensive tackle although he may need to improve his stamina a bit.
Darrisaw came out after his junior year and still may be able to improve with proper coaching. He can also improve his strength with proper training. He has balanced skills and checks nearly all the boxes. If he gets that coaching and continues to work hard, he has the potential to be fixture at tackle for the team that selects him for years to come.
Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
Radunz was a star at North Dakota State but there is a big jump from that level to the NFL. The offense system he was a part of in college was run heavy and spread heavy so the adjustment to the NFL will be a big one.
Radunz weighs only 300 pounds and will need to add some weight to compete at the NFL level. He has good quickness and moves well especially in a short area. His lower body strength is also a plus and he gets his pads low when blocking to gain leverage on defenders.
The biggest issue for Radunz will be the jump from FCS to the NFL. He is a bit more of a project and will need more time than many other offensive tackle prospects to adjust to life in the pros, but he also has the potential to excel in the NFL in the right system and with the right coaching.
Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
If you’re looking for size, Mayfield has it. He stands 6’5” and weighs 320 pounds. He also moves well for a big man and exceled as a run blocker for Michigan. He has a mean streak and finishes his blocks as a result.
Mayfield does need work at pass protection and that may mean he would not be ready to step in right away and start for the Packers. He needs to improve his footwork a bit to better mirror faster pro pass rushers.
In college, Mayfield started only 15 games so there is room to grow as he gains experience and gets better coaching. He is coachable as demonstrated by his improvement each year in college.
The arrow is pointing up for Mayfield and if he gets the right coaching and into the right system, he should be a long-time quality starter in the NFL.
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