Sean Rhyan’s growth in 2023 will prove to be quite valuable for Packers in 2024

By: Paul Bretl 4/17/24

Sean Rhyan made the most of his opportunities during the second half of last season and is now the front-runner to be the Packers’ starting right guard in 2024.

To say last season was important for Rhyan, given how his rookie season went, is an understatement. Although he was a third-round pick in 2022, Rhyan was a healthy scratch on game days for most of that season, and he then ended up missing the final six games of the year, serving a PED suspension.

I believe there’s a not-so-distant world where, if last summer Rhyan doesn’t make strides, he isn’t on the 2023 roster.

With the offensive line struggling through the first half of the season, the Packers resorted to a rotation at left tackle between Rasheed Walker and Yosh Nijman, as well as at right guard with Rhyan and Jon Runyan.

What started out as Rhyan playing a series or two blossomed into him and Runyan splitting snaps nearly 50-50 in Week 15 against Tampa Bay, and that carried over into the playoffs.

“He really grew a lot from Year 1 to Year 2,” said GM Brian Gutekunst, “and really proud of not only his work ethic and the shape he got himself in, but then when his opportunities were presented, his ability to capitalize on that. I think there’s a lot of really good football in front of him. His best football should be in front of him.”

Where Rhyan was at his best was as a run-blocker. With his size and strength, he brought a different element to the Packers’ offensive line as a bit of a mauler. Rather than opening up a running lane by being in an advantageous position, Rhyan generates push and moves the defender across from him.

However, where Rhyan has to become more consistent if he’s going to be an everyday starter in the NFL is in pass protection. Rhyan had just 128 pass-blocking attempts last season but still allowed eight pressures. According to PFF, out of 84 eligible guards, he ranked 52nd in pass-blocking efficiency.

“He’s still got a ways to go,” said offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich late last season. “I like what I’ve seen from him from a physicality standpoint. He does a good job in the run game at the point of attack. But he still has a ways to go in pass protection would be his biggest thing moving forward.

“If he wants to be a staple guard of this league, you obviously have to excel in this realm. So that’s one thing we are going to focus on with as we move forward just to elevate that part of his game.”

While Rhyan may be the favorite to start at right guard this season for the Packers, in all likelihood he is going to have to earn that job rather than it being handed to him.

Whether you ask Matt LaFleur, Stenavich, or offensive line coach Luke Butkus, competition was crucial to the elevated play of the offensive line during the second-half of the 2023 season. One would think the Packers want to recreate that this summer, especially with Rhyan still being relatively inexperienced and needing to improve in pass protection.

The issue that the Packers run into is that along the interior offensive line, there is little of that on the roster right now. In addition to Rhyan, the only other interior linemen on the roster are Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers – two other starters – and Royce Newman.

With the lack of depth at this position group, coupled with the Packers having 11 selections in this year’s draft, odds are they make at least two additions to the interior, and I wouldn’t rule out a third.

Below, you will find the top-10 pure interior linemen in the 2024 draft class, along with their overall ranking on PFF’s big board. As we all know, the Packers have also found quite a bit of success drafting Day 3 offensive tackles and moving them inside.

23. Graham Barton, Duke
27. Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon
33. Zach Frazier, West Virginia
60. Christian Haynes, UCONN
93. Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
95. Mason McCormick, South Dakota State
100. Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia
106. Christian Mahogany, Boston College
111. Hunter Nourzad, Penn State
126. Trevor Keegan, Michigan

The importance of a young player making a developmental jump from Year 1 to Year 2 is often talked about, and we saw Rhyan do just that.

However, equally as important is that the player continues to progress and make another leap in Year 3. If Rhyan can do that, he will provide some stability to the offensive line and have the opportunity to play a key role on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

“He got that opportunity in the second half to split some reps,” added Gutekunst, “and he went in there, and he proved to the coaches that they kept doing it. They kept him out there. Obviously, we anticipated free agency and whether or not we were able to bring Jon (Runyan) back or not, so having him get that experience will serve us well as we go forward.”