Packers Reveal Key Motive for Drafting New Rookie Tackle

Packers Tom Motive

Getty Zach Tom #OL53 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 3, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Green Bay Packers have a history of loading up on offensive linemen on the third day of the NFL draft, and we now know one of the big reasons why Wake Forest tackle Zach Tom appealed to them in this year’s fourth round.

Packers offensive line coach Luke Butkus spoke about Tom during his press conference with reporters during May’s OTAs and explained the team was largely drawn to him because of his shutdown performance against Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson during the 2021 collegiate season.

Tom was pitted against Johnson — who the New York Jets picked at No. 26 overall in the 2022 NFL draft — last September in Wake Forest’s third game of the season and completely denied the future first-round pick, allowing zero pressures at left tackle. Not only did his standout performance eventually force the Seminoles to have Johnson rush the right tackle instead, but it also checked every box for the Packers’ scouts.

“One of the big things when we watched Zach was that game versus Florida State, and blocking the defensive end they had who was highly rated and did a great job,” Butkus said on May 19. “How did he do it? You know, he’s competitive. He’s smart. And he’s athletic, he can move, he can bend. So all three of those things, we look for in our offensive linemen. That’s how he did it. You’ve got to have grit, you’ve got to have pads on and be able to hit as well. That’s all part of it.”

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Could Tom Contend for Staring Job?

Thanks to a persistent build-by-draft strategy, the Packers have a roster stuffed with offensive line talent heading into the 2022 season. The only trouble is the team currently has both of its top starters — All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and Pro Bowl everythingman Elgton Jenkins — recovering from ACL injuries and are unsure whether they will be ready to play when they take on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1.

If either one of them isn’t available, there could be an opportunity for the rookie Tom.

Tom played 1,055 snaps at left tackle during his final season at Wake Forest and finished with the highest pass-blocking rating in the FBS last year, according to Pro Football Focus. He also played left tackle (674 snaps) in 2020 after spending his entire 2019 season as the Demon Deacons’ starting center (1,030 snaps). Safe to say, he possesses a good amount of utility to the mix-and-match style of the Packers.

VideoVideo related to packers reveal key motive for drafting new rookie tackle2022-07-01T10:09:25-04:00

Scouts have argued Tom might be better off flipping back inside at the NFL level, but the Packers admitting his play at tackle is what drew them to him could suggest otherwise. After all, the Packers need a new right tackle after moving on from Billy Turner this offseason and only have two non-rookies — Yosh Nijman and Cole Van Lanen — to contend for the job in 2022 if Jenkins is unavailable.

Regardless of who is healthy for camp, keep an eye on Tom and where he lines up during camp practices. He could end up being a legitimate challenger at a few spots.

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