July 29, 2021

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Flexible offensive line gives Packers options

2 min read
Flexible offensive line gives Packers options

In this case, both Jenkins and Patrick have ample experience at center with Jenkins making three late-season starts last season while Linsley missed time with a knee injury.

While the Packers could be looking to fill holes with next week’s NFL Draft, they’re also looking for growth from their trio of sixth-round picks from last April: Jon Runyan, Simon Stepaniak and Jake Hanson.

Runyan came in and immediately looked the part. The son and namesake of the former Philadelphia Pro Bowl right tackle, the younger Runyan served as the next man up on the offensive line for most of his rookie season, playing 160 offensive snaps.

Runyan (6-4, 306) has been viewed by most scouts as a guard but was a two-year starting left tackle at Michigan, earning All-Big Ten honors during his senior year.

Stepaniak missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL ligament in practice at Indiana prior to the Gator Bowl. It was an unfortunate ending for the 6-foot-4, 316-pound guard, who started 31 of the 41 games he played for the Hoosiers.

Despite being just six weeks out from surgery, Stepaniak still did 37 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, the most of any Packers draft pick in Indianapolis since at least 2000.

Stepaniak spent his first summer in Green Bay rehabbing but was activated off the non-football injury list on Dec. 9. He practiced with the team for a month before being placed on injured reserve after Jared Veldheer was signed on Jan. 12.

Hanson, a four-year starting center at Oregon, also finished his rookie year on the injured list after sustaining an injury in early October as a member of the Packers’ practice squad.

Beyond the 2020 rookie class, which also included practice-squad holdover Zack Johnson, veteran reserves Yosh Nijman and Ben Braden also return after spending time on the Packers’ active roster last year.

Nijman, a coveted college free agent in 2019, is a massive tackle prospect at 6-foot-7, 315 pounds. He was a three-year starter at Virginia Tech and wowed scouts with a blazing 4.50-second time in the short shuttle at the combine.

Braden, a college teammate of Runyan at Michigan, has had two stints with both Green Bay and the New York Jets since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He played in four games with the Packers last season.