In the beginning, every rookie can’t wait to find their place in the NFL. Once they accomplish that, it’s on to earning that second contract. The Green Bay Packers found some good future franchise players in the 2020 Draft. One has already been extended. Five more will be gunning for that second contract in the 2023 season. One of which, is Offensive Lineman, Jon Runyan Jr.
After being drafted in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Runyan has been a solid figure on the Packers Offensive Line. His rookie season he logged the most snaps on the offensive line for a non-starter. He was used as a swingman which earned him a starting spot on the line in 2021 and he has held on to it ever since.
He’s been a solid starter. In 2022, Runyan only allowed 1.5 sacks while starting each game. He also was only flagged once. Coincidentally, this was the only flag taken by Runyan in his career. He’s also been great in the running game springing running backs free in route to an average 2K yards rushing the last two seasons. For a 6th round pick, that’s outstanding.
However, there’s a chance it’s not enough.
Runyan Could Still be Dethroned
As solid as Runyan has been for the Packers so far, his spot is still in jeopardy. The left side of the Offensive Line is all but set in stone. David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins will surely occupy those positions in 2023. The right side is anticipated to be Runyan at Right Guard, and Yosh Nijman at Right Tackle. However, there’s a wild card.
Currently, you could say the “swingman” position is occupied by Zach Tom. If anything happens to the starting five Offensive Linemen, Tom could easily fill in. In OTA’s however, it was noted that Zach Tom took many starters reps including some at Center. I will always believe that you should have your five best guys on the line at all times. Not just the best at certain positions. It definitely looks like the Packers are trying to get Tom on the field more than in a swing role.
With Runyan becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent next offseason, he could be the odd man out. The Packers have Zach Tom on the rise as well as Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones waiting for their opportunity. If Yosh Nijman has a good season at Right Tackle, he could receive a new payday. If the rest of the line stays intact, Runyan could be expendable for getting Zach Tom a starting role. There are three things Jon Runyan could be quietly rooting for if he wants to remain a Packer.
Rooting against teammates
It seems like a silly concept, but you know many NFL players quietly do it. On the outside they’ll be pulling for everyone else on that roster. But on the inside, they could just as easily be hoping for failure due to roster competition.
Three things Runyan could internally be pulling for this season and after:
- Zach Tom to beat Josh Myers for the starting Center position. Myers has been inconsistent. Zach Tom played a good amount of Center in college and has drawn reps in OTA’s recently. If they decide to move Zach Tom to Center, that will likely keep Runyan’s job at RG safe, and the Packers will want to extend him
- David Bakhtiari to retire or be released. Nobody wants this day to come. But it’s close. Bakhtiari moving out, like with Josh Myers being beat, would likely move Zach Tom or Elgton Jenkins to LT. Again, keeping Runyan’s value up and earning a second deal.
- A bad season for Yosh Nijman. The Packers showed they valued Nijman by placing a 2nd round tender on him as a Restricted Free Agent. He will return in 2023 but will be Unrestricted in 2024. A rough season for Nijman could mean the Packers letting him walk, and again, Runyan’s value grows.
All in all, I’d like to see Jon Runyan sign a second contract with the Packers. I believe he’s been a solid diamond in the rough finding for the team and has always handled himself well. He’s a Packer. If his performance is good enough, I want him to remain on our team. Resigning him could rank up there just after extending Rashan Gary.
And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that he signed my son’s ball at Training Camp last year making his week. But it helps.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.