What Will the Packers Offensive Line Look Like in 2021?

The Packers offensive line graded out as one of the best in the NFL in 2020 with three players earning either Pro Bowl or All Pro honors in David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Corey Linsley.

But changes are coming to the offensive line. Linsley has signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as a free agent and won’t be back. Bakhtiari is rehabbing a serious knee injury suffered late last season that required surgery and it’s still not clear when he will be ready to return to the lineup.

In anticipation of these changes and to provide more depth at the position, the Packers have drafted six offensive linemen in the past two drafts and signed free agent Billy Turner prior to the 2019 campaign.

With that in mind, here is a look at the Packers offensive line and how it may look in 2021:

Left Tackle:

The good news is the Packers have one of the best at this position in Bakhtiari who has made the Pro Bowl or been named All Pro in four of the last five seasons.

He is an elite pass blocker and strong run blocker who has done a great job of protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind slide for the past eight seasons. Bakhtiari also just signed an extension with the Packers late in 2020 so he should be the team’s left tackle for the foreseeable future.

The question is when will Bakhtiari be ready to return to the lineup and if he’s not ready to go, who will fill in here until he returns?

Candidates include Turner, who could move over from right tackle temporarily, Elgton Jenkins who has moved over from his guard position when called upon, Yosh Nijman who the team has been developing over the past two seasons, or players like Jon Runyan Jr or Royce Newman who were tackles in college but are projected to play guard in the NFL.

If Bakhtiari is ahead of schedule as GM Brian Gutekunst indicated at a press conference before the draft, then there are no questions. But until he does return, the left tackle situation will be a key one for this team to resolve.

Left Guard:

Elgton Jenkins earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his second NFL season in 2020 and he is the presumptive starter at this position.

However, Jenkins is one of the most versatile linemen in the NFL and can play any of the five positions. He may be needed to fill in at tackle until Bakhtiari gets healthy or he may be a candidate to start at center.

If Jenkins is needed elsewhere along the line, possible candidates to fill in at left guard include Runyan, Newman, Lucas Patrick, Simon Stepaniak and Cole Van Lanen with Patrick and Runyan likely to be the frontrunners.

Center:

The position is open after the departure of Linsley. Obviously, the Packers drafted Josh Myers in the second round of this year’s draft with the hope and expectation that he will take over as the starting center sooner rather than later.  He is considered the favorite to win the job by the start of the 2021 season depending on how he performs in training camp and in the preseason.

There are several other candidates for the job. Patrick has played at center as has Jenkins although moving Jenkins could weaken the guard position. The Pack drafted Jake Hanson out of Oregon in last year’s draft and he may get a chance to show he’s ready to step in during this year’s training camp.

Replacing Linsley won’t be easy as he had experience and played at the highest level of his career in 2020. Linsley also called the signals for the offensive line and somebody will have to take over those duties in 2021 as well.

Right Guard:

Lane Taylor won the job in training camp last year but was injured in Week 1 and lost for the season. Patrick took over and did a solid job while playing 90 percent of the team’s offensive snaps over the course of the season.

The Packers would like to upgrade the position this season and have several candidates. Patrick is the incumbent but he could move to center or be better suited to being the primary backup along the interior of the line.

Runyan filled in during three games at guard when injuries struck and never looked overmatched or out of place. If he continues to develop, he could fight for a starting spot in 2021. Stepaniak may also be in the mix if he’s healthy. Newman and Van Lanen will also try to make an impression as rookies and earn some playing time.

The Packers have lots of options at right guard heading into training camp but no clear cut starter.

Right Tackle:

Billy Turner moved over from guard to right tackle and had a good season. He also moved over to left tackle at times when Bakhtiari was hurt although he is better suited to the right side.

If Turner is moved to another spot on the line, the Packers have several options including moving Jenkins over to the right tackle spot, inserting Nijman if he’s ready to get some playing time or having players like Runyan or Newman head back to tackle where they played in college.

Summary:

As you can see, the Packers have many versatile players along the offensive line and a lot of possible combinations they can go with. While Jenkins, Bakhtiari and Turner are almost certain starters when they’re healthy, but after that, there are many battles for playing time and roster spots that will determined between now and the start of the regular season.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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8 points

Comments (41)

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

May 15, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Good summary Gil. OL could be bright spot or a turd show if players don't maintain or even grow their skills. FAS! GPG!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

May 16, 2021 at 06:01 pm

Good morning Gil,
I like your summary. The Packers have emphasized versatility and intelligence in drafting and signing offensive linemen. Last year we saw that pay dividends and I expect to see the same needed this year, at least in the first portion of the season. I anticipate our offensive line will be one of the more solid group of performers in the NFL this year and will certainly help whichever quarterback is behind center this year to do a good job. If Rodgers plays this year, I think the sky is the limit for this offensive unit.

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Since'61's picture

May 15, 2021 at 01:04 pm

Didn’t we already have this conversation? Thanks, Since ‘61

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Guam's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:16 am

Yes we did, but it is still better than more drivel about the Rodgers bruhaha!

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PeteK's picture

May 16, 2021 at 09:33 am

This is like Deja Vu all over again. We just signed Benkert!!!! They're coming to take me away hehe haha!!

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greengold's picture

May 16, 2021 at 09:50 am

Style points for pulling out the Yogi Berra. Ha! Nicely done, Petey!

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PatrickGB's picture

May 16, 2021 at 09:26 pm

“ Bakhtiari also just signed an extension with the Packers late in 2020 so he should be the team’s left tackle for the foreseeable future.” I wish you had not used the near same quote used about Rodgers.

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Coldworld's picture

May 15, 2021 at 01:08 pm

5 pretty big guys from the roster who have a penchant for sticking their butts out for a camera is my guess.

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Lare's picture

May 15, 2021 at 01:09 pm

Whoever they go with, I have complete trust that Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus will be able to coach them up to be competitive.

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 15, 2021 at 03:58 pm

When you see that many guys performing that well, even when out of position, I think you have to read between the lines and assume there is a great coach there. If Bakh isn't back it will certainly be a test.

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TarynsEyes's picture

May 15, 2021 at 03:45 pm

It'll look like 5 guys bent at the waist and not being shoved onto their asses.

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Stroh's picture

May 15, 2021 at 07:46 pm

If an OL is any good, he certainly isn't bent at the waist. Those guys don't play well in the NFL. An athletic stance requires bending as much or more at the knees, in order to generate power. Again proving you don't know as much as you think you do!!

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TarynsEyes's picture

May 15, 2021 at 08:50 pm

Geez, you're always so uptight. It was sarcasm.

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Stroh's picture

May 15, 2021 at 10:48 pm

BS.

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mbpacker's picture

May 15, 2021 at 03:51 pm

Thanks for your break down!

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Reghamster's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:11 pm

I would only add Fat Asses !

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Reghamster's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:11 pm

I would only add Fat Asses !

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 15, 2021 at 04:10 pm

I REALLY want to see Yosh in a pre-season game this year. I want to see what he can do. People have been talking about him as a starting RT ever since he came in as an UDFA and I've been like, "whoa, dude, no." This is the year. This is the year for him to prove if he can play. The opportunity is wide open. Grab the RT spot. Hey Nijman, if you are reading this, SHUT ME UP. Do it.

My best guess w/depending on when Bakh is healthy: Bakh/Turner - Jenkins - Myers - Turner/Runyan - Yosh or Newman

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Stroh's picture

May 15, 2021 at 08:00 pm

Yosh will be lucky to make the roster. Huge project that probably will never pay dividends.

Nothing like hedging your bets on the picks. Giving obvious options at every position without actually making a pick. LMAO

The best case scenario for Bahktiari is to be on PUP to start the season and be activated about Nov 1, and practicing for 2 or 3 weeks before seeing the field. Possibly starting by Thanksgiving at the earliest. It's a pipedream to think he might start at LT to open the season.

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Guam's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:09 am

Agreed on the Bahk scenario Stroh. Big guys usually take longer to recover from an ACL and the Packer medical staff is notoriously conservative with players returning from injury. I suspect mid-season will be the earliest we see Bahk.

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blacke00's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:27 am

Totally agree with your assessment on Bahk. And when he does return he won't immediately be All Pro. These injuries require time and the player has to develop confidence in the injured knee. Hopefully he'll make alar out of us.

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greengold's picture

May 16, 2021 at 09:28 am

I’m hoping you’re really wrong on Yosh & really right on Bakhtiari.

With Yosh having been protected purposely on our roster for development for two years, I’d like to see that development realized. Would be cool to get a legit starting RT via that route of UDFA/develop. If Yosh has developed like I believe he may have, he could be our starting LT game 1.

If you’re right that it was in fact a pipe dream, that’s OK. We have the players to start & play effectively with the Jenkins shift to LT. The plan with Nijman was always low risk/high reward. We’ll see.

Like you, I’m hoping they don’t rush Bakhtiari back into his starting LT role unnecessarily. It will be great to get him back healthy mid season.

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:54 pm

Agree about low risk/high reward on Yosh. Guys like him who are really athletic but completely lacking productivity at OT never work out. It was worth a shot, but it's highly unlikely he works out. I'd be happy to be wrong about him, but I can't consider him a viable option until he does alot more than take up a roster spot.

Consider Bahktiari out until Thanksgiving at the earliest
IMO. Outside chance he doesn't play at all in '21.

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Stroh's picture

May 15, 2021 at 08:09 pm

So Gil, you posed an interesting question in the title but you didn't answer your own question or even provide an opinion. We all know the options, it wasn't really necessary to lay them out, unless you provide answers or at least an opinion! Not your best work. I expected better.

Since I don't see Bahktiari being ready till mid-season in the best case scenario, my starting OL to start the season goes like this.

LT - Jenkins
LG - Runyan
C - Myers
RG - Patrick
RT - Turner

When/If Bahktiari returns,
LT - Bahktiari
LG - Jenkins
C - Myers
RG - Patrick, with Runyan starting a competition to possibly take the job.
RT - Turner

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 15, 2021 at 09:37 pm

Nothing like hedging your bets on the picks. Giving obvious options at every position without actually making a pick. LMAO

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Stroh's picture

May 15, 2021 at 10:57 pm

I gave ONE option, that is in no way hedging! Apparently you don't know the meaning of hedging. I made the assumption (Apparently a bad one) that you knew at least that much.

You on the other hand gave multiple options, which is the definition of hedging!

Geez dude, grow a brain or at least learn to use it!

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greengold's picture

May 16, 2021 at 10:59 am

Stroh, are you saying “hedging” is a bad thing in describing Gutekunst’s moves on our OL? Or are you referencing what fans are saying?

Who cares how many OTs he brings in? What matters is he stacks the best players he can on our roster.

Giving yourself as many options as possible with players you like & feel fit your system is very smart talent procurement. I really do think Gutekunst saw he was in error not having more OTs ready to fill in when Bakhtiari went down last year. No GM is perfect. The best ones adjust.

What we are seeing is not a negative. It is smart to research the hell out of the OTs available as best fits, then try to bring them in to duke it out for positions on the 53.

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:58 pm

No I didn't say Gutey was or wasn't hedging at all. I said the commenter was hedging! READ!

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MarkinMadison's picture

May 17, 2021 at 06:42 am

Dude you gave two separate lineups. The differences between what you did and what I did are a matter of formatting, not content.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 16, 2021 at 06:36 pm

Stroh,
Your two OL scenarios are a mirror of my thoughts. However, be nice to see a couple of those young OL step up and seriously challenge the incumbents as starters illustrating how deep we really are.

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:01 pm

Without Bahktiari I don't see the depth. Options maybe, tho hardly viable ones. They have decent depth inside, but don't have any depth at OT. Hence moving on OG to OT as the best option.

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dblbogey's picture

May 16, 2021 at 12:48 am

Well, this has turned unpleasant.

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Lphill's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:24 am

Runyan made 26 starts in college at left tackle , he eventually will be a starter on the O line somewhere .

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 16, 2021 at 10:22 am

Packers love B1G O lineman. Van Lanen, Dieter, Myers, Runyan, Stepaniak. They could staff an O line by themselves!

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:07 pm

Yeah, the problem is every one of the players mentioned is an IOL, in the NFL, Not at OT.

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:16 pm

So did Van Lanen, but neither has the tools to play OT in the NFL. OT is a very different skill set in the NFL, as compared o OG/C.

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 16, 2021 at 10:16 am

Runyan and Myers seem to have the inside track to start if Bakht is ready to go. Patrick has upped his game every year and is a tough guy in the trenches. Solid, quality depth will be groomed.

A top shelf O line makes a top Offense and makes its QB and RBs look good. I hope Rodgers is back under center in 2021, but if not, the O Line will have to carry the O....and I think they can.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 16, 2021 at 06:38 pm

Lambeauplain,
I too think they can raise the play for BB, RB's, WR's/TE's if Gute even hit on 50% of those OL.

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Stroh's picture

May 16, 2021 at 08:09 pm

Neither Runyan or Myers is an OT, which is what they need with Bahktiari out. They have a plethora of interior OL, but almost no OT

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CheesyTex's picture

May 16, 2021 at 07:20 pm

Pulling for Stepaniak to be 100% healthy and bring a load of nasty to the OL mix.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 17, 2021 at 05:30 pm

“ What Will the Packers Offensive Line Look Like in 2021?”. Big, talented and tough.

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