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One of the top goals for Green Bay Packers rookie offensive lineman Zach Tom is developing an ability to play all five positions along the offensive line. At Wake Forest, he started games at left tackle and center, two completely different positions. In Green Bay, he could turn himself into a legitimate option at tackle, guard and center.
At this point in the process, it’s unclear where the Packers will start him off as a rookie.
“Right now, I’m just prepared for anything. That’s one of my strengths. I want to be able to play all five positions,” Tom said Friday. “They haven’t told me anything specific yet. I’m just ready for anything.”
The Packers made Tom the 140th pick in the fourth round of the draft. He enters the NFL as one of the most athletic and versatile offensive linemen in the 2022 draft class.
Versatility is a valuable asset for a young player, especially along the offensive line. Tom’s ability to play multiple positions could help Matt LaFleur’s team replace some of the flexibility afforded by departed veterans Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick – two players who combined to start games at all five positions over the last three seasons – and give him a legitimate shot at playing time during his first season.
“The more versatile you are, the more valuable you are. The more you can do, the better chance it is that you’re going to get on the field, and that’s my goal,” Tom said. “It’s not really as much pride, I just want to get on the field, so I want to do as much as I can.”
Tom started 23 games at left tackle and 14 at center for Wake Forest. He said center is more mentally taxing, in terms of making calls and communicating information to the offensive line, while left tackle is more challenging physically due to facing longer, more athletic players, especially on third down.
Tom understands Green Bay’s history of developing mid-round offensive linemen, especially players with his versatile skill set, and he’s already comfortable with offensive line coach Luke Butkus.
“I think he’s going to develop me into a really good player,” Tom said.
Digesting the playbook and getting physically ready should give Tom a chance to compete for a starting job as a rookie. Things are unsettled on the right side of the offensive line, especially while Elgton Jenkins – a player he looks up to and wants to emulate – recovers from an ACL injury.
Knowing all five spots could give Tom a chance to compete for one of the open spots right away.
“I want to be somebody who can play all five positions at a high level,” Tom said. “That’s the goal. That’s my main goal for the offseason and through camp. I want to be somebody who can go out there at any position and rely on to perform at a high level.”