All the talk with who Packers will take in this year’s draft has been focused on their need on defense but many are forgetting how sub-par and banged-up the offensive line was last season. It’s a surprise that Aaron Rodgers didn’t get injured a lot earlier than he did with all the sacks and hits he took and if the most talented quarterback off all time who seemingly isn’t too happy with the office right now needs protection, they better get a lineman.
Looking at the current linemen of the Packers, which, David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, and Bryan Bulaga have been doing most of the starting while Jason Spriggs, Don Barclay, Justin McCray, Lucas Patrick and Kyle Murphy are backups. By looking at the names, the starters are pretty good but the major problem has been injuries and depth. Bulaga entire career has been riddled with injuries which includes two ACL tears with one being last season. Bakhtiari, Linsley and Taylor also missed games last season. To protect and give Aaron Rodgers more time to throw, they need to get fresh and deeper at the o-line and there is plenty of great first round prospects that can fulfil that need.
Because of Bulaga’s injury history, drafting an offensive tackle would make the most sense for the Packers out of all the line positions. What lines perfectly for the Packers is probable top-20 pick, Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. At 6-7 and 309 lbs. he has ideal size. He is an excellent run blocker and was a key to Notre Dame’s huge rushing attack last season. In separate matchups against top defensive end prospects Harold Landry and Duke Ejiofor, McGlinchey won against both. He is also pretty good at one-on-one pass protection on the blind side. At one time he was hailed by many scouts as a franchise left tackle.
Another prospect who can play all positions on the line is Isaiah Wynn from Georgia. He is predicted to go by the late first-round to early second so the Packers could even trade down if they think he’s ideal. He is five inches shorter than McGlinchey but weighs the same so he’s an absolute brick house. Because he is shorter, many scouts don’t think his length is ideal but he could play guard and is athletic enough to play center. At Georgia, he has shown impressive natural ability as a football player and blocks with a lot of aggression and temperament which is rare in college linemen and that could get him at left tackle in the NFL.
There are also a couple options for the Packers at the guard position as well. The most talented offensive linemen in the draft is McGlinchey’s teammate at Notre Dame, Quenton Nelson. Before teams needing quarterbacks traded up, Nelson was regarded as a top-five pick but he has since dropped to the top-ten or even further. He will likely be taken before the Packers are up but since they have so many picks this year, they could package some picks together and trade up to get him. He is regarded as one of this year’s draft’s elite prospects and is the safest prospect in the draft. Some scouts have gave him a higher grade than Logan Mankins, David DeCastro , Brandon Scherff and some have even compared him to NFL Hall of Famer Larry Allen. At 6-5 and 325 lbs. he overwhelms and dominates defensive linemen in both the run and pass game. If there’s a single lineman that can bring instant improvement to a position by simply playing its him.
The Packers are in desperate need of defensive players but protecting Aaron Rodgers could be an equally concerning factor going into the draft. Because of the need of depth and Rodgers’ injury last season, the likelihood of them drafting a lineman in the first is probably higher than what most people think. It’s not as likely as them taking a defensive guy but if the chance of drafting Quenton Nelson arises they would be fools to not seize it. If top defensive back prospects like Denzel Ward, Joshua Jackson, Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James are all gone by the time the Packers are up, they could end up taking McGlinchey or trading down to take someone else.