Draft weekend has come and gone, and 11 former collegiate players are now members of the Green Bay Packers.
A new draft class means a plethora of new stories, including the team getting Aaron Rodgers some help by adding three new wide receivers. But lost among the other narratives may be that Green Bay might have finally nailed a third-round pick with the selection of UCLA offensive lineman Sean Rhyan. We won’t know for some time how Rhyan will adapt to the NFL, but in terms of positional value, college productivity, and process, the pick looks like a slam dunk.
We all know Green Bay hasn’t excelled in the third round. In Brian Gutekunst’s first four drafts, he selected four players. Two of them, Oren Burks and Jace Sternberger, are no longer with the team. Josiah Deguara and Amari Rodgers are still young NFL players, and it’s too early to call them bad picks, but both need to take a step forward in 2022. Deguara has had unfortunate injury luck, and his drops haven’t endeared him to Aaron Rodgers. Amari Rodgers had a rookie season best left forgotten.
But Rhyan has a lot in his favor that his third-round brethren don’t.
After using both of their second-round selections early on Christian Watson on early Friday night, the Packers selected Rhyan with the 92nd pick towards the end of the night. Over the weekend, Rhyan was the first of three offensive linemen drafted by Green Bay.
From a draft capital point of view, Rhyan’s selection was right on the money.
- Rhyan was 90th on Pro Football Focus’s big board
- 62nd on Ross Uglem’s board for the CheeseheadTV NFL Draft Guide
- 97th on Daniel Jeremiah’s list
Rhyan was also viewed as a fourth-round pick by the NFL.com scouting report. Big boards don’t mean a lot to NFL teams, but Rhyan’s selection came at the right time from a draft-community consensus. He wasn’t viewed as a reach.
Not only does he play a valuable position, but Rhyan is a prototypical Packers O-lineman for a multitude of reasons. While Rhyan started 31 games at left tackle at UCLA, he profiles as a guard at the pro level thanks to his shorter arms. Green Bay loves transitioning college tackles to NFL guards, and Rhyan’s experience at tackle gives him positional versatility.
Since Gutekunst became the team’s general manager, he’s prioritized interior linemen much earlier in the draft than his predecessor. Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers were both second-round selections who were able to contribute early (though Jenkins might be a tackle).
Rhyan is a confirmed athlete with a 9.33 Relative Athletic Score. While the Packers traditionally love athletes, especially with their early picks, they’ve often broken this trend in the third round. Jace Sternberger had a draft-class low 5.2 while Amari Rodgers scored a 5.37.
The powers at be at 1265 Lombardi love them some big, athletic men and positions of value. Rhyan checks every box.
While the Packers often like to bet on traits and ceilings, Rhyan has great traits while also having had a productive college career. He started in 31 games at UCLA and saw some stiff competition. In particular, he went up against Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, who the New York Giants took with the fifth-overall pick, and dominated. Rhyan has already put together some impressive tape against NFL-level competition.
In Green Bay, Rhyan will immediately compete for a starting spot. While he projects most likely as a guard in the pros, he’ll get a chance to compete at tackle as well. Elgton Jenkins may be the future starter, but he won’t be back until midseason, and every position on the offensive line but left tackle and center are wide open.
Rhyan will compete with Jon Runyan Jr., Royce Newman, and fellow 2022 draftee Zach Tom at the guard spots and with Yosh Nijiman at right tackle. Expect some rogue options at both spots as well. With his high draft pedigree, positional versatility, and college success, Rhyan has an excellent chance at being a Week 1 starter as a rookie, uncommon for a Gutekunst-era third-rounder.
Of course, this is obviously just speculation. Rhyan hasn’t been a Packer for more than a week, and he hasn’t had a practice with the team. It’s too early to declare any single draft pick as a winner. But Rhyan plays a valuable position and one the Packers need. He’s got a great athletic background and good tape to back it up. He’s got a real chance to be a contributor his rookie year. That’s something few Green Bay third-round choices can claim. Rhyan should be one of the more exciting 2022 draft selections to follow in the lead-up to the season.