The Green Bay Packers have been dealing with adversity and bad news throughout the 2022 season. Unfortunately for the team and head coach Matt LaFleur, the bad news just keeps coming.
Heading into Green Bay’s Week 12 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL announced on Friday, November 25 that rookie offensive lineman Sean Rhyan was suspended six games for the performance-enhancing substance policy. Field Yates with ESPN was one of the first to report the suspension via Twitter.
Green Bay’s young offensive linemen have had a tough week, with Rhyan’s suspension and second-year guard Royce Newman hearing calls for him to be cut next season. Meanwhile, the team has been closely monitoring the health of both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, who have been dealing with torn ACL injuries that have limited both players during practices and games this season.
It’s been a disappointing year for Rhyan, who hasn’t been able to see the field, and will now have to spend the rest of the season suspended.
Sean Rhyan Must Prove Himself in 2023
Rhyan hasn’t had an opportunity to prove himself as a rookie, and now with his suspension, he’ll have to remind the Packers why they took a chance on him in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Coming out of high school in California, Rhyan was a 4-star recruit and the second-ranked guard in the 2019 recruiting class. Although he had offers from multiple top FBS programs, Rhyan decided to stay in his home state to play for the UCLA Bruins.
It didn’t take long for Rhyan to have an impact. He became a starting tackle for the Bruins as a true freshman, holding onto a starting job for all three seasons he was in college. By the time his junior season was over, he had played a large part in helping the Bruins average over 200 rushing yards per game in back-to-back seasons at left tackle. His high level of play helped him earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2021.
With Rhyan’s experience at left tackle and athletic profile, the Packers took him with the 92nd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Rhyan had a hard time cracking into Green Bay’s starting offensive line, and despite all of the shuffling on the line, it’s been fellow rookie Zach Tom who has been seeing reps instead.
Now that he’s been suspended, Rhyan will need to come back in 2023 with a fire in his belly if he wants to avoid being cut or released just one year into his NFL career.
Zach Tom Has Been the Better Rookie OL
Considering he was drafted later than Rhyan, it’s surprising to see Zach Tom getting playing time. That being said, the rookie has held his own when forced to play.
Tom was taken in the fourth round of this year’s draft out of Wake Forest. He had played both left tackle and center in college, with that versatility making him a target for Brian Gutekunst and Green Bay’s front office.
So far, Tom has appeared in four games while starting two of them. He’s started at both left tackle and left guard, posting a solid overall grade of 68.7 out of 100 by Pro Football Focus. With that versatility and experience as a rookie, Tom could play a key role for the Packers in the coming years.