Investing In The Trenches Pays Off

GM Brian Gutekunst should place a premium on accumulating depth and talent in the trenches. 

Win at the line of scrimmage, dominate in the trenches, and good things will usually happen throughout the season. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Super Bowl LVII participants. 

During the regular season, the Eagles' defensive front accumulated 70 sacks, tied for third with the 1987 Chicago Bears for the most sacks in a single regular season, with four players registering at least 11 sacks (Brandon Graham (11), Josh Sweat (11), Javon Hargrave (11), and Haason Reddick (16)). Reddick, a second-team All-Pro honoree, and Sweat finished in the top ten among defensive ends and outside linebackers in pass rush win rate. Hargrave finished third in the same category among defensive tackles. Altogether, the team finished tied for first in pass rush win rate. 

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles' offensive line was widely regarded as the best unit in the NFL, led by first-team All-Pro honorees center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson. Even Packers QB Aaron Rodgers recently touted them as one of the best in the last 20 years. Johnson, in particular, was the cream of the crop at pass blocking not only along the Eagles’ offensive line but across the entire league, as the Oklahoma product finished first in pass block win rate among tackles and, according to Pro Football Focus, did not allow a single sack or QB hit in 551 pass-blocking snaps. Moreover, left tackle Jordan Mailata finished with the second-highest run block win rate among tackles, and guard Landon Dickerson finished with the highest run block win rate among all guards. 

The Chiefs’ defensive front was second to the Eagles in sacks, finishing with 55, and was led without question by first-team All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones (15.5 sacks and 29 QB hits), who was first among all defensive tackles in pass rush win rate. Rookie defensive end George Karlaftis and 8-year vet Frank Clark finished with 6 sacks and 5 sacks, respectively. 

The Chiefs’ big boys on offense were no slouches, either. They finished the regular season at No. 4 in PFF offensive line rankings and finished first in pass block win rate and third in run block win rate. Guards Joe Thuney and Trey Smith finished the season first and fourth, respectively, in pass block win rate among all guards, and Thuney finished fifth in run block win rate. Center Creed Humphrey finished first in pass block win rate and second in run block win rate among all centers. 

And with the season on the line, the unit stepped up and then some against the Eagles. They allowed zero sacks, only the second time all season that the Eagles did not record a sack, and allowed the team’s rushing attack to gain an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Right tackle Andrew Wylie, the unit’s weak link throughout the season per PFF, rose to the occasion against Philly when the team needed him the most as he only allowed one QB pressure in 31 pass block snaps. 

It should not be a surprise that the Eagles and Chiefs enjoyed success in the trenches throughout the 2022-23 season, given the investment each has made. The defensive line for the Chiefs led the league in 2022 cap dollars ($54,713,353) and the Eagles were fourth ($44,750,413), according to Sportrac. The Eagles’ offensive line came in at No. 3 in 2022 cap dollars ($36,337,549) and the Chiefs were No. 8 ($31,817,606). Altogether, both teams acquired their talent on both sides of the ball via all three available avenues: free agency, the draft, and the trade market. 

As we have seen recently, a weak offensive line or defensive front does not mean you cannot get to the Super Bowl or enjoy postseason success to a certain degree. The Bengals and the Chiefs both got there recently with shaky offensive line play. Plus, inadequacies upfront could be masked by other strong units on the team or could be masked due to a favorable matchup brought forth by the opposition. (If the team does not have strong to elite quarterback play, then they have a limited ceiling, to begin with, so having units in the trenches will only take them so far.) On the flip side, the Bengals, led by a dynamic passing attack, allowed seven sacks in last year’s Super Bowl loss, and the Chiefs’ offensive line, with Patrick Mahomes under center, was overmatched versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' strong defensive front in the year prior and suffered the same fate as the Bengals. As a result, the Chiefs traded for left tackle Orlando Brown and drafted center Creed Humphrey during the 2021 offseason, and the Bengals splurged to upgrade their offensive line during the 2022 offseason. 

The preceding ramblings bring us to the state of the Green Bay Packers in the trenches. PFF ranked the offensive line as the fourth-best unit at the end of the regular season, pointing out that “seven different players made up almost all of the snaps for the Packers.” PFF also acknowledged that David Bakhtiari, despite only appearing in 11 games due to his ongoing recovery from knee surgery and an emergency appendectomy late in the season, “didn’t allow a sack or a hit all season and surrendered only 10 hurries on 339 pass-blocking snaps.” He also finished second behind Johnson in pass block win rate. Right tackle Yosh Nijman, who started 13 games in 2022 and is an impending free agent, finished with the highest run block win rate among all tackles, and guard Elgton Jenkins finished eighth among all guards. 

The Packers were 11th in 2022 cap dollars allocated to that group ($29,951,801) and general manager Brian Gutekunst has continuously used the draft to find both depth and starters. After only drafting one offensive lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft (Cole Madison, fifth round) and one in 2019 (Jenkins, 2nd round), Gutekunst has drafted three offensive linemen in each of the past three drafts. If Bakhtiari can stay healthy next season, after a full offseason to train rather than to rehab, and perform at the rate he did during his 597 snaps in 2022, this unit should continue to be a strong, invaluable asset for head coach Matt LaFleur & Co. 

I do not think the same is true about the defensive front at this current juncture. Case in point, the Packers had zero players finish among the top ten in pass rush win rate or run stop win rate. And after Rashan Gary went down with a season-ending injury in Week 9, the pass rush was practically non-existent, mainly because they had minimal depth behind the former first-round selection. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark also did not have the same impact that he did during his 2021 Pro Bowl season, but he also faced double teams on 23.5% of his 809 defensive snaps in 2022, according to PackersNews.com’s Tom Silverstein. Still, though, that figure was roughly middle of the pack for the defensive tackle position. 

If Gary can pick up where he left off before tearing his ACL (six sacks, seven tackles for loss, and 12 QB Hits through nine games) and Clark can return to his Pro Bowl, the defensive front should be better in 2023, but they still need more depth and production along the outside and interior. Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, the team’s 2022 first-round selection, could provide that as could defensive end Kingsley Enagbare, who finished the year strong with three sacks, five tackles for loss, and eight QB hits. Regardless, Gutekunst & Co. should dedicate draft assets to address the team’s defensive front. The earlier in the draft, the better. 

Even if the defensive line rises to the same level of play as the offensive line does not mean that the Packers will find themselves in the Super Bowl, but ensuring that both units are stout will sure go a helluva long way.

 

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Rex is a lifelong Packers fan but was sick of the cold, so he moved to the heart of Cowboys country. Follow him on Twitter (@Sheild92) and Instagram (@rex.sheild). 

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NFL Categories: 
6 points
 

Comments (43)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
mnbadger's picture

February 17, 2023 at 12:12 pm

It's all about the big boys. Size, athleticism, experience, coaching the skills and implementing a good scheme all combine to make good players in the trenches.
We really need to get bigger, stronger and faster on the d-line.
I love Bakh, but is now the time to trade him and move the young guns up?
GPG!

5 points
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SinceLombardi's picture

February 17, 2023 at 08:52 pm

I think we need to get tougher on both lines too. Several teams ( including Detroit) pushed both of our lines up and down the field.

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nygary's picture

February 17, 2023 at 12:21 pm

So many people on this site keep posting who they would draft. Most people want a RB,TE,WR, not many talk about the big guys. If Kenny Clark ever got hurt long term imagine what this DL would look like. This team needs quality D Linemen. I also agree now is the time to move BAK. His contract is to big for a guy that can't practice during the week. Better a year to early then a play to late.

8 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 17, 2023 at 12:36 pm

We’ve added some potential on the DL that I think may help, but we need more big guys that can handle the run and we need to be willing to use them. Our DL has been poorly handled for years and Barry was not much better. Moving on from Lowry will help, decent depth perennially starting and a known liability in the run game is starting out with one hand behind one’s back. Reed was better, but we need to upgrade and they have to be able and willing to play hard and effectively versus the run.

9 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:30 pm

The third round is a good spot to attack the three tech and I do not mean reaching for stiffs like Montravius Adams. Plug in Benton and call it good. Mazi Smith will move into the lower second round. Sept. to January of college football games provides a lot of Film. The medical work should be done on pre-draft visits.

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 19, 2023 at 03:36 pm

Benton isn't enough of a pass rusher to be considered a 3T. I think he can play NT, 4i and 5T but Wyatt is obviously going to get a great shot at playing the 3.

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crayzpackfan's picture

February 17, 2023 at 02:29 pm

CW- We need to play a tighter man defense, bumb and run (I know, rules have changed) but if we can be more physical with our CB's, S's and Middle LB, our front 4 will be in a better form to stop the run as well as that easy 3rd an 7 crap.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

The safeties are no longer allowed to clean up the mess inside. The reason more crossing routes compromise the DBs. Nowadays, you must bring Pass Rush fast and from all Angles. Get to the QB before he gets to you...

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 17, 2023 at 12:44 pm

One reason why I feel much better about going into next year is down the stretch the OL played much better. From opening day to the final game only 1 person was playing in the spot they started the season at. That was Myers. Yosh moved from LT to RT. Runyan moved from LG to RG. Hanson and Newman were benched. Bakhtiari and Jenkins were playing back to their level of play. I think the biggest move that the coaches made all year was moving Yosh/Runyan to the right side, and Jenkins and Bakhtiari on the left. And that move paid off.

Going into next year we will have Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Runyan as locks. We need to figure out RT. I don't know if they will resign Yosh. If they don't I think its Tom's job to lose. But a couple of others will be in the mix as well. Caleb Jones, Rasheed Walker, Luke Tenuta all could push their way in with a good offseason.
I also don't know if Runyan is a pure lock at RG. He has experience, but I could see them having someone else working there to at the least push him more.

But I feel much better about our OL moving into next year, compared to what we had moving into this past season.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:33 pm

OT round one or two. Get your Bulaga. Get better. Rasheed Walker was on my list as a #6. He was a stable guy for Penn State.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Very much yes, Rex. Nothing good happens on offense without blocking. You need five good, healthy offensive linemen on the field, and with injuries etc., you'll need 9 on the 53 man squad. Any QB we have will be better with blocking. Any RB we have will be better with blocking.

By my unofficial count, we have 5 capable starters in Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Runyan, Myers, and Tom. If we bring back Nijman, then we have 6 capable starters and age would only be an issue with one. After that, the next three......probably Newman, who has started quite a few games for us, or Hanson.

I want to let that sink in for a second.

After that, we don't have anybody who has ever played in an NFL game: Rhyan, who has off-field issues, too, Walker, Caleb Jones

If we don't add some better quality, when injuries hit, we're going to be starting people like Newman and Walker. On the other hand, if you add a moose to this line, maybe a guy who could start at RT, then that gives us 7 legit starters, and if even ONE of the current players improves to starter quality (like maybe Rhyan), then that's a better injury cushion that what we have now.

All my simulations have two OL in the top 115 (that's about halfway through the 4th round). I get this guy Blake Freeland a lot, and the Wisconsin center, Tippmann. We can't afford to start the season with OL on the 53 man roster who can't do the job, because people get hurt and all of a sudden that project who was #8 is starting for you.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:51 pm

Get 'em big and get 'em good. Move the dead weight, enhance the competition. I keep Bhak.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2023 at 02:19 pm

I don't think that's much of a question. Financially, there's no real benefit to trading him. On the field, there's maybe a dozen or so guys in the world that can do what he does better than he does it.

I do think this is his last year in Green Bay, because he'll just be too expensive to keep in 2024 and we'll save around $20 million on the cap if we release him.

That would be another reason to bolster the line

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 02:47 pm

He was rushed in ahead of his recovery going back to the Lions game in '21. He looked dominant when he was in there. I want a bookend guy with a high pick. Let Tom compete inside. He needed help to compete against guys like Hendrickson.

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coolhand's picture

February 17, 2023 at 02:22 pm

Hanson and Newman should both be cut and replaced from the draft or maybe find a journeyman FA that is affordable.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 17, 2023 at 08:46 pm

I agree LH.
I just did an interesting simulation, where I traded down a lot, shooting for a pick later in the round plus a pick in the next round, doubling my choices, then in the middle rounds I started to trade for 2024 picks. None of it was terribly unreasonable. This was my haul:
2 TE Dalton Kincaid (my favorite TE)
3 S Jammie Robinson (My favorite S), 5 JiAyir Brown, + 7 CB Chamari Conner
2 ED Andre Carter (Boom-or-bust, but I love his "Mad Stork" style)
2 DL Mazi Smith (I'd rather have gotten a DE, but Smith was the best available DL)
3 QB Tanner McKee (I really like him)
3 RB Tank Bigsby, 5 DeWayne McBride (two HIGHLY underrated RBs)
4 WR AT Perry, 4 Jayden Reed, 4 Michael Wilson (I love Perry, and Reed and Wilson are players)
7 OT Carter Warren + 7 G Braeden Daniels (both also underrated)
7 K Jake Moody + 7 LS Alex Ward (because why not?)
PLUS in 2024 the following: 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7

0 points
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NorCalPacker685's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:13 pm

The DLine has been an issue for years... and is why the run defense has been abysman year after year. It almost seems like Kenny Clark just gets discouraged and gives up after a few weeks. If Wyatt can progress, and Slaton improves, along with Kenny getting back to form, the middle has a chance to be top of the line... Edge however is a different story. Gary is coming off a major injury, PSmith is a nice player but is supplemental at best... And then what? Kingsley? He's nice, but is a rotational player... This team needs to add at least 2 edge rushers this off season. Whether that is draft or a veteran, it needs to happen. With a consistent pass rush, the secondary might actually play up to its potential... Which brings me to Safety, which HAS to be a top priority... Edge and Safety should be the only 2 defensive positions picked in the top 3 rounds.

2 points
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nygary's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:34 pm

its hard to go into nest year norcal thinking if wyatt improves and slaton improves. Thats alot of if's and after that theres no depth. Big guys are like a foundation to your home. Preston Smith is more than a backup.

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:45 pm

Need more than two bigs trying to get to the RB, or QB. Even Aaron Donald is getting sick of the Dbl teams. Use more four down linemen. Engabare is the Elephant guy, had a solid rookie year and he will get better. All SEC as a junior. They had a guy they brought along as a quality control assistant in Evero, so they had a handle on his abilities. He had Denver's D fired up and is now off to the Panthers. They like Barry. Edge in round one-two. Safety can be had later 3-5.

1 points
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Wildcomet's picture

February 19, 2023 at 07:34 am

This. They do way too much of the 2 DL on 1st/2nd downs and it just makes running the ball too easy. Both DL get double-teamed and the rest of the OL get clear paths or LBs or safeties in the 2nd level. Clark is a great player at his peak but double-team absorber isn't what he gets paid for. Need at least 3 bigs on the field with hands in the dirt until you get to 3rd & long. Combine that with the soft zones in the secondary keeping them away from the LOS and it's no wonder our run defense sucks most games.

Mazi Smith would be my main DL target in this draft. Him on the nose with Clark and Wyatt would be a strong base front. He may be tricky to get with our other needs, and I think we could get a good Edge or Safety in round 3 of it comes to it. Really though I hope to see the Packers get some more early round picks one way or another. There are quality players to be found well into Round 3 I think, and the Packers have a decent place in the order to trade down for more picks.

1 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:22 pm

Gutey goes DL/OL in the first round this year to cheers from the build the trenches crowd...

07 Brian Bresee DL | Clemson - (Trade with Raiders)

15 Broderick Jones | Georgia

38 Andre Carter II EDGE | Army (Trade with Raiders)

45 Darnell Washington TE | Georgia

78 Brandon Joseph | Notre Dame

116 Dontayvion Wicks WR | Virginia

151 Kendre Miller RB | TCU

171 Josh Whyle TE | Cincinnati

234 Warren McClendon OT | Georgia

237 Nick Saldiveri OT | Old Dominion

244 Nesta Jade Silvera DL | Arizona State

256 Ochaun Mathis EDGE | Nebraska

259 Max Duggan QB | TCU

-1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 17, 2023 at 01:49 pm

Do you believe Al's kid would move on AR with McDaniels in the house? They could try Matt Levis ,or Anthony Richardson @ #7.

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Untylu1968's picture

February 17, 2023 at 03:14 pm

You're 100% correct, Rodgers isn't going anywhere.

-2 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 19, 2023 at 08:13 am

If he returns, realistically, nor are we.

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

February 17, 2023 at 02:00 pm

The offensive line is, currently, ok. But the line on defense is below average. Of course we all like Clark but when he is double teamed there is little or no push. Wyatt (based on size) seems more like a DE than DT. It would be nice to get a bigger guy in there and I would like to see us pick up one of those in the early rounds. But I must admit that I don’t have a clue who that could be?

1 points
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Wildcomet's picture

February 19, 2023 at 07:45 am

I personally think Mazi Smith should be a target. He's projecting generally into mid-late Round 2 in most mocks I see lately. 21 yrs old and an athletic for his size 335 lbs. Not a top pass rusher but very strong against the run. Would be a great 2-down DL imo. I'm not sure he would be my top choice in Round 2 just because of the needs at Safety and TE (and also WR, Edge and OL if the right players fall), but if the value is gone at those spots or the Packers can get an extra R2 pick he'd be a real good selection in my book.

0 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

February 17, 2023 at 03:06 pm

I agree. I am assuming the trade with Rodgers happens, so my two first round picks is a DL and Edge in that order. And sign Reed or someone like him for depth. An older vet playing part time would be a big benefit

3 points
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packer132's picture

February 17, 2023 at 07:59 pm

Packers have done a good job of drafting offensive linemen recently. They drafted 3 in each of the last 3 years. Some work out and some don't. Maybe Sean Rhyan from UCLA will prove to be a decent backup this year. The team probably moves on from Bakhtiari, Newman, and Hanson. I am hoping for two higher picks on the O line again. I looked up the PFF rankings and they had Green Bay #3 on the best O line behind Philadelphia and Baltimore. Not sure I agree but injuries again hit them. Defensively PFF had the GB line at #7. Lowry will be gone and again expecting two picks on the DL. Strong lines are a huge difference maker and Packers have many needs. I was hoping for a 1st round TE or WR, though will not complain should a DL or OL go early.

1 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 17, 2023 at 08:16 pm

Wow if we get a top ten pick from someone, with as many holes as we have to fill, I would sure hope we are smart enough to not waste it on ONE possible starter. That high of a pick is begging to be traded, and I would also do the same thing with #15 and trade back and have SIX chances in the 1st three rounds to fill all our needs. First round picks can be failures and are alot of the time. I would just as soon have as many shots in the first 4 rounds as possible. Maybe 2 safties,2 tight ends, and some D and O lineman. If we can dump Rodgers we add another 1st and a 2nd at least. The 1st rounder could turn into 3 picks. So could #15. And we have our own 2nd and 3rd. Thats alot of picks in the CREAM of the draft. That would be hard to screw up. The Patriots have been the masters of this brilliant manipulation of the NFL draft. They have been sort of successful wouldn't you say? With the 7th pick Green Bay trades back and fleeces some team that always gets stupid and trades up. We might as well take the extra really good picks and RELOAD not REBUILD. It also fixes our salary cap issues that we keep pushing back. Cheaper, younger, better players.

1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

February 17, 2023 at 09:38 pm

Let's skip the 3rd round this year and load up in the second.

3 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 18, 2023 at 07:12 am

I will be very surprised if we get a top 15 pick in trade.
However, I completely agree with trading down. My personal theory, every year, is to trade down for a pick 10-20 slots later, plus a same-round pick in the following year. I would do that type of trade as often as possible. Heck, if you can find enough trade partners, in ten years you might have every pick in a draft!
:-D

0 points
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Wildcomet's picture

February 19, 2023 at 07:59 am

I very much agree. This is a good draft for early-mid round talent. I'd rather get two players in the late 1st and 2nd than one player at 15, or even trade down again from that late first for more picks still. Trade down again from 3 and get multiple bites in Round 4 where our scouts seem to shine. IF we do also trade Rodgers for a couple early picks, suddenly this roster could look very promising top to bottom.

0 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 17, 2023 at 08:24 pm

And I would trade Bakhtiari now. He is probably worth at least a 2nd rounder and maybe a later pick. Don't sleep on Rhyan either. He could probably be an All Pro guard at the least, but he was also All Pac Ten at OT for 2 years too. Bakh has been great but he is breaking down just like Bulaga did. Time to move on while he is still worth a good pick or 2 and save $20 million to boot.

1 points
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Wildcomet's picture

February 19, 2023 at 08:05 am

IIRC, I don't think trading him helps the cap much with how his contract is structured, so I'd be inclined to keep him for now personally, but if a team needing to better protect their franchise QB like the Bengals offered a 1st, I'd take it and draft his heir.

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 19, 2023 at 08:12 am

It helps if he’s traded with an after June 1 designation. The other factor is that his presence stops younger talent coming through and reinjury in any way related likely kills his value. If Rodgers comes back I don’t see him moving. If Love starts, I’d start younger players that will be around if he does establish himself and get what I could in terms of future cap and current trade value.

0 points
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4thand10's picture

February 19, 2023 at 03:47 pm

And it would also assist the guy in the dark room right now expediting his decisions which would be just another added bonus.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 17, 2023 at 08:26 pm

Wyatt and Rhyan were rated really high for a reason, and after last year they both have something to prove. Here comes the 2nd year jump for both.

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

February 18, 2023 at 08:26 am

Gosh, I hope so. Because their first year was not impressive. For some reason the coaches did not even play Rhyan. And Wyatt was an older rookie who did not do much despite being a first round pick.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 17, 2023 at 09:32 pm

Just a few mashers on both lines and a TE will go a long way ! Is that too much to ask for with the picks we have even now . And a Safety please.

1 points
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Ima Payne's picture

February 17, 2023 at 10:07 pm

KC isnt about Mahomes as they like to think but that O line kept him safe and free to wait and find open tight ends and receivers all game long. Any QB with that kind of time will pick you apart as he did with the Eagles.
On the flip side the O line of the eagles had Hurts running for his life and mostly stopped his runs too by holding a scout back to shadow him and still covered the passes and runs
Yes its is all about the O and D line quality.

1 points
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Qoojo's picture

February 18, 2023 at 11:23 am

It pays off if you find the right guys. If i am making drafting decisions, I draft at least one DL/OL every year in the first 3 rounds, and I would have a preference towards taking a big guy in first round. Like Parcells said, "God didn't make many of these guys" or something like that. Point being that it's hard to find athletic 300lbs men that play football in NFL.

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stockholder's picture

February 18, 2023 at 06:31 pm

15 Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
45 Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
78 Gervon Dexter, Dt Fl

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greengold's picture

February 20, 2023 at 10:12 am

"The game is won or lost in the trenches." - An NFL Maxim to this very day, despite the evolution of the game.

Gutekunst OL picks in his tenure as Packers GM:
2022 R3 Sean Rhyan OT/OG*
2022 R4 Zach Tom OT/OG/C*
2022 R7 Rasheed Walker OT*
2021 R2 Josh Myers C*
2021 R4 Royce Newman OG/OT*
2021 R6 Cole Van Lanen OG
2020 R6 Jon Runyan OG*
2020 R6 Jake Hanson C/OG*
2020 R6 Simon Stepaniak OG
2019 R2 Elgton Jenkins OG/C*
2018 R5 Cole Madison OG

*8 Gutekunst drafted OL players currently remaining with Packers

With David Bakhtiari possibly paired with AR in a trade package, and Yosh Nijman an UFA in 2023, the Packers would be wise to invest in top picks/top talents at both LT & RT in April’s draft or via FA. I'd very much like to see a Nijman re-signing, as I think he remains a high quality, starting quality & versatile LT/RT. The Packers have spent years developing the 6-7 314 Nijman, who I believe to have been a UDFA steal in 2019.

I'm hopeful LaFleur and his OL Coach Adam Stenovich can realize similar success in developing last year's R7 selection, OT Rasheed Walker. How long that might take is anyone's guess, but Walker comes in with similar size at 6-6 324. In 2021, Walker was a Team Captain at Penn St. The kid can play. Was Rasheed Walker a late round steal? Maybe. We'll have to see.

I cannot fathom AR being traded without David Bakhtiari being a part of that package. Both players are viable, effective talents nearing the ends of their careers. Both players are close friends looking for that one last shot at winning a Super Bowl. Removing both players from our books (currently $17M in the red) will go a very long way towards returning the Packers to the black on the salary cap ledger. The front runner in the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes, the New York Jets, are in dire need of a starting LT. This pairing just makes too much sense for both the Jets and the Packers.

Green Bay is bereft of known quantities/proven talents/reliable depth at EDGE. Pass rush is essential to making any NFL Defense work effectively.

The Packers shouldn’t count on Gary returning to pre-injury form, and Kingsley Enagbare. Despite a strong 2022 finish, Enagbare needs further development. Preston Smith really failed to deliver in 2022, making this even moreso a position of need.

Attacking the trenches on both sides of the ball early in this draft will go a very long way towards the Packers becoming contenders again.

I'm starting to have some hope, realizing the NYJ didn't offer Derek Carr a contract after last week's visit, knowing they don't want a starting QB who throws INTs all over the place.

It helps the Packers, too, having the Las Vegas Raiders challenging for AR's services. I do think the Jets make the most sense as a trade partner for all involved. Let's not forget, Bakhtiari wants a ring too. I don't see how NYJ trades for AR without him being a part of that package as well. The Jets + a Top 5 Defense + AR + DB = legit contender.

In any deal, there must be something of immense value, something desirable for both sides to acquire. If I were the Packers, I'd try to augment such a trade with NYJ to the best of my abilities. This is the Packers one - remaining - shot at beginning a new era with both barrels loaded, and likewise, the Jets one shot at winning a Super Bowl with the talent they've amassed everywhere but QB and OL.

100% symbiotic.

I'd like to see the Packers invest in bolstering the trenches with that draft capital. Add a top LT and 2 EDGE rushers from the best this draft has to offer.

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