Versatility gives Packers seemingly endless OL configurations 

By: Paul Bretl 5/6/24

With the versatility that the Packers have from a number of different players along the offensive line, predicting the starting five in early May feels a bit like rolling five dice and knowing not only what numbers will pop up but the exact order.

“Very excited about it,” said Adam Stenavich on Monday about the versatility this unit has. “I think it’s just a matter of putting the best group out there and there’s a lot of different combinations, like I said, that we’ll see. We’ll see how it all shakes out. That’s one thing we’re always pretty intentional about is working guys at multiple positions to just see where they fit best. I think that’s kind of what we’ll be doing in OTAs and the early part of camp.”

When it comes to offensive line play, the sum of the parts is greater than any individual. It’s why when Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur, or Stenavich are asked about the offensive line configuration, their response is often that it’s about putting the best five players on the field–which may not necessarily mean, however, that each individual player will be at the position they play best. An example of this could be Zach Tom lining up at right tackle instead of center, where the Packers reportedly think extremely highly of him.

This also makes it even more difficult to decipher, particularly at this time of the year, what the starting configuration up front is going to look like.

From the sounds of it, Jordan Morgan will compete with Rasheed Walker at left tackle–at least for the time being. While Walker finished the season strong, LaFleur has said he still has “a lot of room for improvement,” specifically needing to become more consistent over the course of the 60-70 snaps that are played on offense each week. Although the Packers do remain confident in him.

However, one of the reasons that the Packers drafted Morgan was because of the versatility that they believe he possesses, which means not only playing either tackle position but playing guard as well, where he could push Sean Rhyan on the right side, who does have to improve in pass protection.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a tackle,” said Stenavich of Morgan, “I wouldn’t say he’s a guard, I just wanna see where he fits best for us and with our best five out there. So that may be at tackle. It might not be, but I’m excited to work with him and you can see his athleticism when he’s out there. He’s a pretty talented guy.”

Along with Morgan, the Packers also drafted Jacob Monk, who has the ability to play all three interior offensive line positions and could potentially challenge Rhyan and/or Josh Myers for playing time as well. 

Moving Tom to center could be another option that Packers have, and has been a topic of conversation over the last year. When it comes to possibly replacing Tom at right tackle, the Packers do have options on the roster. Morgan or maybe Walker could take over at right tackle if the Packers are willing to have either swap sides of the line. The Packers also have Luke Tenuta and Caleb Jones who they have been developing the past two seasons, with both players on a similar path as Yosh Nijman was when he joined the team in 2019.

With that said, a recent article from Tom Silverstein suggests that a move inside for Tom may not be in the cards, or at least not at this time.

While Myers has experienced his ups and downs, it’s also important to note the leadership role he has taken on in that offensive line room, and his ability pre-snap to identify and communicate pressures effectively so that everyone is on the same page are important factors that often go unseen. 

“Like last year, other guys had to step up and basically take the room over and that’s where you saw guys like Elgton and Josh Myers really just become the leaders of the room, so that was fun to watch from that aspect. Obviously losing David (Bakhtiari) wasn’t fun, but that’s one thing about football. You just gotta move on and play with the guys you have and make the best of it.”

So very quickly, you can see how it would be difficult to get a beat on what the Packers want to do up front. Presumably, Morgan and Walker could play either tackle spot. Morgan could also play guard, while Tom and Jenkins can play all five spots. Rhyan and Monk, meanwhile, could both play either guard spot, with Monk also able to play center. If needed, Myers could move to guard as well. The combinations seem endless.

Competition was a cornerstone behind the improved offensive line play we saw over the second half of last season, with in-game rotations taking place at left tackle and right guard. But the Packers did lose Yosh Nijman and Jon Runyan, two experienced players who were a part of those rotations, during the offseason to free agency.

However, the fact that the Packers will be relying on less experienced players this summer won’t stop them from fostering that competition. In fact, with all the versatility that they have, along with their willingness to move players around, competition should flourish. 

“We got a lot of good depth that it’ll raise it up,” said Stenavich of the competition in the trenches. “There’s guys that maybe don’t have as much experience as opposed to a Sean Rhyan versus Jon Runyan, but there’s still a lot of guys who can play. We’re never afraid to play young guys. It’s just one of those things that’ll give them all opportunities and see who rises.”

There’s no reason that this Packers offense shouldn’t be among the best this season, but it’s my belief that the ceiling for this unit will be determined by the play of the offensive line. A run game to lean and to open up opportunities in the passing game, along with give Jordan Love time, will be the catalyst behind any consistent success they have.

Sitting here in early May, we can all make our best guesses and predictions about who the Packers starting five is going to be come Week 1, and the fact that there are so many possibilities says quite a bit about the depth that they’ve built. But until training camp and the preseason take place, and we see how each of these players are performing and where they’re lined up most often, these projections are educated guesses, at best. 

“I mean the fun thing about where we’re at right now with the O-line is you can look at it and there’s a a lot of different combinations of guys,” added Stenavich, “whether tackle, guard, center, whoever, that you could move around and still have a pretty good O-line. So I’m excited to kind of see how it all shakes out.”