This season was a success for the Green Bay Packers, even though they did not win the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers had a resurgent season, winning an MVP on his way to an NFC Championship game. While most of the praise will undoubtedly be showered on Rodgers, it is important to remember that the offensive line was a big part of his success this season.
Headlined by All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari and All-Pro center Corey Linsley, the Packers finished with the second-best offensive line, according to PFF. They were among the best pass protecting units in the NFL. But it could take a step back next year if Green Bay doesn’t bolster the offensive line through the draft now that Lindsley has signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, and tackle Ricky Wagner was a cap casualty.
Without Bakhtiari in the NFC Championship, we all saw how Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul were able to get to Rodgers repeatedly and stifle the Packers’ offense. Fortunately, they can solve some of their offensive line woes in this draft with a player who is in their backyard.
Don’t worry if you haven’t ever heard of Quinn Meinerz. Before his sheer domination at the Senior Bowl, the lineman wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
Meinerz was a three-sport athlete at Hartford Union High School, just outside of Milwaukee. He was a wrestler and track and field star in addition to being an All-State player on both the offensive and defensive line. But despite his impressive high school career, he was not recruited by D-I programs and chose to play at D-III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater.
During his time at UWW, Meinerz was dominant on the interior offensive line, overpowering his competition on his way to an AP First-Team All-American appearance. Still, Meinerz wasn’t considered a pro prospect until he showed out at the Senior Bowl. However, he dominated some of the best D-I defensive linemen in Mobile and quickly put to rest any questions about his ability to play at the next level.
Mienerz is built low to the ground, taking some influence from his wrestling days in his protection. He is explosive at the point of attack, using his quick hands and feet along with his impressive strength to push defensive lineman away. He also shows the ability to adjust to blitzes and speed rushers in pass protection.
Despite his lack of athleticism, he can move somewhat effectively off the line of scrimmage and get upfield when run blocking. He can play at both center and guard at the next level, providing the Packers with flexibility in what they want to do with Pro-Bowler Elgton Jenkins in the future.
Mienerz is the perfect pick for now and for the future. His upside is through the roof, and he could immediately be an impact player on the offensive line this season. It is in the Packers’ best interest to spend a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick to keep this supremely talented interior lineman in the state of Wisconsin for a long time to come.