Packers draft preview: Ample options available for replacing C Corey Linsley

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Zach Kruse
·3 min read
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The Green Bay Packers will go into the 2021 NFL draft with 10 draft picks and a chance to build on a talented roster that finished 13-3 and advanced to the NFC title game for the second straight season in 2020. Like last year, GM Brian Gutekunst has three picks in the top 100 selections and seven Day 3 picks.

Packers Wire’s position-by-position draft preview rolls on at interior offensive line:

On the roster

Elgton Jenkins, 25 years old, signed through 2022 – Lucas Patrick, 27 years old, signed through 2021 – Jon Runyan Jr., 23 years old, signed through 2023 – Simon Stepaniak, 23 years old, signed through 2023 – Ben Braden, 27 years old, signed through 2021 – Zack Johnson, 24 years old, signed through 2021 – Jake Hanson, 23 years old, signed through 2021 Notes: Corey Linsley, a long-time starter at center and an All-Pro last year, departed Green Bay for Los Angeles in free agency. The returning group includes two starters from last season (Jenkins, Patrick) and three 2020 draft picks (Runyan, Stepaniak, Hanson). Jenkins, a first-time Pro Bowler last year, will soon be an extension candidate.

Short term need

Moderate. The Packers may think they have three capable starters entering 2021 in Jenkins, Patrick and Runyan. Jenkins is one of the NFL's best young interior linemen, Patrick can play guard or center and Runyan looked comfortable and capable in limited action as a rookie. Sliding Patrick to center (arguably his best position) and inserting Runyan – assuming a second-year leap – at guard could be the right mix. There is decent depth behind the three, but an addition here – even just for competition – makes a lot of sense. The one caveat: If the Packers move Jenkins to right tackle, the need increases significantly. And the Packers may want to find a new long-term option at center instead of moving Patrick to the position.

Long term need

Moderate. Jenkins and Runyan could be fixtures along the offensive line for years to come, but Patrick will be a free agent following the 2021 season. Much of the depth concerns could be alleviated if Stepaniak and Hanson – both draft picks from a year ago – develop into capable contributors. Finding a developmental center prospect might be a priority in this draft.

Chances of drafting position

Moderate. Two factors to consider: The long-term position of Jenkins, and the Packers' plan at center. If Jenkins is moving to the edge, or the Packers want to keep the offensive line pieces in place and acquire a new starter at center, the chances of drafting an interior lineman increase drastically. If the Packers have a plan for shuffling the pieces at guard and center, the need won't be as significant and the team can be patient looking for help in the draft.

Depth of draft class

Fairly strong. The class looks especially good at center, where several options exist on all three days of the draft. There are also a handful of intriguing tackle conversions to guard. Overall, Dane Brugler of The Athletic has nine guards and four centers in his top 100 players. Day 3 should present several potential opportunities to take a center prospect.

Potential options, and last interior OL drafted

A few potential options for the Packers at interior offensive line in the draft class: – Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma – Landon Dickerson, Alabama – Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater – Josh Myers, Ohio State – Jackson Carman, Clemson – Drew Dalman, Stanford – Drake Jackson, Kentucky – Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame – David Moore, Grambling State – Jack Anderson, Texas Tech – Michal Menet, Penn State – Royce Newman, Ole Miss Last interior offensive lineman drafted by Packers: Simon Stepaniak, sixth round, 2020

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