GREEN BAY – Between the Packers’ desire to establish the run and the importance of keeping Aaron Rodgers from getting hit: It’s safe to say the Packers offensive line needs to be in tip-top shape this year.
Well, as of right now, that’s not the case.
The issues stem primarily around the health status of Elgton Jenkins, who tore his ACL back in November of 2021. It’s still unclear as to when he’ll be ready to go this year. The Packers recently went through this with David Bakhtiari, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his ACL in December of 2020.
There’s also questions at both guard positions, albeit some are smaller than others. One way to help the guard situation is to move Jenkins back inside, where he earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2020. But as stated earlier, that currently hangs in the balance.
And then there’s Bakhtiari, who’s played just 27 snaps on offense since his injury. Will he hit the ground running or will it take some time to get back to his All-Pro ways?
The Packers have Yosh Nijman on deck in regard to a potential solution at right tackle. He played pretty well during 2021’s regular season, however, his playoff performance against the 49ers was borderline catastrophic. It left questions about whether or not he can handle a full starting load in the NFL. The Packers also drafted Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom, but both players are obviously rookies and there’s no guarantee they’ll be ready by Week 1.
Fortunately, there’s a player who can come in and help the Packers issues at both guard and tackle, which will help across the board: Daryl Williams.
Williams is a former starter for the Panthers and Bills. He was widely regarded as a top-10 right tackle in the league, for a little while. He even garnered second-team All-Pro honors in 2017, but a serious injury caused him to miss all but one game in 2018.
Carolina let Williams go via free agency after the 2019 season and he’s gone on to start 33 games over the last two seasons for the Bills. He split time at both right guard and right tackle in 2021, earning an overall blocking grade of 67.5, per Pro Football Focus.
The 29-year-old would bring versatility, experience, and production to a Packers offensive line that is currently going through the motions. If Jenkins ends up at tackle, then Williams would be a viable starter at guard or he can provide very, very valuable depth. His presence would also allow Rhyan and Tom to develop more and would prevent them from getting forced into the lineup if an injury were to occur.
If the Packers move Jenkins back to guard, then Williams would provide a viable option at right tackle, or, a backup plan in case Nijman can’t win the job.
He wouldn’t be expensive, either. He was slated to make around $8 million in 2022, so it’s not out of line to think he’ll come in for a lesser, prove-it-type deal in hopes of getting a shot at one more big deal in 2023.
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