In the next installment of the position group breakdown, we turn to the offensive line, which looks the same but also looks different going in 2019. Bookends David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga remain as the team’s starting tackles, center Corey Linsley is back to make the interior offensive line solid, and depth options like Justin McCray, Lane Taylor, and Lucas Patrick are still with the team, looking to push for a starting guard position.
New with this group is rookie draft pick Elgton Jenkins and free-agent signee Billy Turner – Jenkins was a Day 2 selection from Mississippi State and Turner was signed after playing for the Denver Broncos.
Looking at the ranks and what can be expected from a highly-important positional group, here are three questions that can hopefully be answered before Week 1 of the season.
How realistic is it to think Bryan Bulaga can play all 16 games?
Going into the final year of his five year, $33.75 million deal signed in 2015, Bulaga has been a steady presence on the right side of the line. Injuries, however, have derailed his consistent play the past few seasons, making his future with Green Bay a bit hazy.
Bulaga has only played in 16 games two of his eight seasons, so to expect him to play a full season this year may be a bit of a reach. However, going into a contract season players tend to play through certain things more to try and raise the value of their next contract, so the durability of Bulaga is a key point to watch in 2019.
One of the longest-tenured Packers left on this team, Bulaga is a force in the trenches, and he is only 30 years old, which is about the time that offensive linemen can begin to hit the wall.
With Turner available to slide out to tackle if needed, Bulaga is going to be counted on for the vast majority of snaps this season, but a nice aspect of this team is that they now have a solid backup plan if Bulaga misses time.
Is Elgton Jenkins far enough along to earn playing time as a rookie?
Typically, when the Packers draft offensive linemen, they tend to go after the maulers, the ones that have tape of them absolutely pile driving guys on a consistent basis. While Jenkins does have that ability and can do that, his technical and positional flexibility capabilities jump off the paper more.
Having played pretty much across the entirety of the Miss. State offensive line in his career, Jenkins was a constant at center for the team in his final collegiate season. While Linsley obviously makes Jenkins have to look elsewhere, his talents should not go unused.
Ranked by some metrics as the best offensive linemen in the 2019 draft, Jenkins has the pedigree to slot into a starting job day one if the opportunity presents itself. Most likely projecting as a guard for this team, in the beginning, Jenkins would hopefully and finally be able to bring a sense of stability to one of the team’s line downfalls, having a healthy set of guards.
Can Billy Turner justify his offseason deal?
Earning a large free-agent deal, for the Packers at least, Turner is locked in a four year, $28 agreement with Green Bay. He was signed the same day as both Preston and Za’Darius Smith, and Turner has a decently-large set of expectations ahead of him for 2019 and beyond.
Turner is a guard by trade, and being able to bring him in hopefully gives the offensive line, similar to what Jenkins would do, stability within the guard ranks. Ushering through the likes of Justin McCray, Lane Taylor, and others has sufficed to this point, and both are still on the roster because they are NFL talents, but Turner may be that final stone turned over that the team needs.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23