The Green Bay Packers‘ offense will be young and unpredictable next season, which probably means a lot of mistakes but may also mean major upside.
There are a handful of breakout candidates at premier positions, including quarterback Jordan Love and wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. However, Zoltán Buday of Pro Football Focus predicted a lesser known Packer to explode onto the scene in 2023 — second-year offensive lineman Zach Tom.
“Tom showcased his versatility as a rookie in 2022, as he recorded snaps at every position along the offensive line except center. He did play better when he played outside at either left tackle or right tackle — a promising sign, considering that he is projected to start at right tackle for the Packers in 2023,” Buday wrote. “He recorded a pass-blocking grade of 82.4 in games where he played primarily at tackle, tied for eighth among offensive tackles last season.”
Right Tackle Zach Tom Among Best Values on Packers’ Roster
Green Bay selected Tom out of Wake Forest with the No. 140 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. At 6-feet, 4-inches tall and 305 pounds, Tom is a high-level athlete. He recorded a 4.94-second 40-yard dash and a 33-inch vertical leap at the NFL Combine two years ago.
Tom proved himself a versatile member of the Packers’ offensive line during his rookie campaign, appearing in nine games and earning five starts. He was reliable when on the field and navigated the entire year without being whistled for a penalty, per Pro Football Reference.
Tom is entering the second season of his four-year rookie contract in Green Bay, which pays him approximately $4.2 million in total. The deal renders Tom one of the best values on the Packers’ offensive line in 2023 to go along with being one of the youngest and most talented players in the unit.
Zach Tom Projected to Start for Packers Opposite David Bakhtiari
Tom is in an advantageous position to learn the ins and outs of playing offensive tackle at the professional level considering who he will play alongside in the starting lineup — five-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari.
There was some talk this offseason that Bakhtiari might end up a cap casualty in Green Bay, particularly after his close friend and career quarterback Aaron Rodgers packed up and headed out for the New York Jets. Instead, the Packers reworked Bakhtiari’s deal to lower his salary cap hit and kept him in the fold.
Reporters asked Green Bay offensive line coach Luke Butkus on Thursday, May 18, about how Bakhtiari might handle the absence of Rodgers in the lineup this season, the first time the left tackle will ever play without the quarterback in what will be his 11th professional season.
“I think you know Dave has juice and will always have juice,” Butkus replied. “Dave’s going to be fine.”
Holding off the opposing pass rush will be the biggest responsibility of both Bakhtiari and Tom in 2023, as Love acclimates to his first year as the Packers’ starting quarterback.