Luke Tenuta, Caleb Jones on similar path as Yosh Nijman, can Packers get similar results?

Offensive tackles Caleb Jones and Luke Tenuta find themselves on a similar developmental path as Yosh Nijman. Now the Packers are hoping that it leads to similar results.

Tenuta and Jones are about to enter their third seasons with the Packers. Jones was signed as undrafted rookie following the 2022 draft and Tenuta, who was a sixth-round pick by the Bills that same year, was claimed off waivers by the Packers early on in the 2022 season.

Both players were raw prospects coming out of their respective schools, but both possessed elite size and movement skills that the Packers were willing to bet on and take time to develop.

Tenuta and Jones were both on the Packers’ 53-man roster as rookies in what was essentially a red-shirt year for each of them. This past year, Jones filled a similar role at the bottom of the depth chart, while Tenuta’s season never got going after he suffered an ankle injury during the preseason that kept him on IR for much of the year.

However, before being placed on IR, the Packers put him on the initial 53-man roster, which gave Tenuta the opportunity to return to practice later in the year, which he eventually did, although he was never activated. This small detail is just another example of how highly the Packers think of him, as well Jones, who took up a roster spot the entire season.

“He’s big, first of all,” said Brian Gutekunst of Tenuta last summer. “He’s really smart. He’s tough. We think he’s got pretty good upside. You guys know, I’ve talked about this with you before, but especially once you get into the season it’s hard to find big guys who can play, and we think he’s a big guy who can play, so we would like to continue to develop him.”

Tenuta has played seven career snaps, which came in mop-up duty of Week 17 during the 2022 season, while Jones is yet to take the field in a regular season game.

What was just described isn’t all that different from Nijman’s path with the Packers. Nijman, who during the pre-draft process measured in at 6-7, 324 pounds and posted an elite Relative Athletic Score of 9.87, went undrafted in 2019 out of Virginia Tech. He joined the Packers that spring as an undrafted rookie.

Nijman spent 2019 on the Packers’ practice squad and made the roster in 2020, but played only 15 snaps that season. However, it was in Year 3 for him, that he saw his first extensive playing time as the Packers navigated injuries at the tackle position in 2021.

From 2021 to 2023, Nijman would play 1,605 snaps at both right and left tackle, either starting 22 games or being a reliable swing tackle off the bench—a valuable role on any team.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, both Tenuta and Jones are entering their third NFL seasons, and ideally, like Nijman, the Packers will need them to step into larger roles in some sort of capacity given the lack of experienced tackle depth on the roster.

Rasheed Walker will be the likely favorite to start at left tackle to begin the season, but as Matt LaFleur discussed recently at the NFL Owners’ Meetings, Walker still has “a lot of room for improvement.”

My guess is that Walker will have to earn that starting spot during training camp and the preseason, and I’m sure the hope is that Jones and/or Tenuta can provide some competition for Walker, while also showing that either can be counted on as depth to come off the bench if needed.

While that is the hope, assuming that jump from either Tenuta or Jones will take place comes with some risk as well. Brian Gutekunst will likely be proactive and spend one of the team’s five top 100 selections on an offensive tackle, which is a loaded position group in this year’s draft class.

Although Nijman navigated some ups and downs in 2023, the Packers invested time into him and were ultimately rewarded for it, especially when you consider that he was undrafted. They will now be looking for similar results for either Tenuta or Jones, and preferably from both.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire