The Green Bay Packers rarely let a draft go by without selecting an offensive lineman. They have had great success drafting and developing their own guys in the trenches. If Green Bay selects Blake Freeland out of BYU on Day 2, he could provide depth early while quickly working himself into the team’s long-term plans.
If there’s one position where Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst most values athletic specimens, it’s offensive lineman. David Bakhtiari is the Green Bay prototype, but one of the reasons that guys like Yosh Nijman have stuck around to make an impact is their athletic ability, particularly when it comes to the broad jump and 40-yard dash splits.
Freeland checks all of these boxes and then some, lighting up the combine and posting an elite 9.89 RAS score. His 37” vertical jump is better than more than a few wide receivers, including A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins, with Freeland measuring in at maybe just a bit bigger at 6’8” and 302 lbs. than those wideouts. Having a comp of a player of Lane Johnson‘s caliber is certainly also a good sign. Johnson has played a long time and helped the Philadelphia Eagles win a lot of games due to his athletic prowess on their offensive line.
While Green Bay’s starting offensive line seems to be in good shape for 2023, Bakhtiari has had his fair share of injuries and is approaching a dicey final year of his contract. Both of those factors could work out in Freeland’s favor. A year of seasoning and learning under one of the game’s best in Bakhtiari and a full season with offensive line coach Adam Stenavich would position Freeland as a potential pillar of the line starting in 2024, with lots of turnover likely coming for the Green Bay roster.
Freeland also possesses the sheer size to at least look the part in the NFL. Granted, that will only get you so far, but he’s not too far off the mark on the technical aspects of the position. The NFL weight room has done wonders for many a player, and pairing that with the coaching to battle the explosive athleticism that your standard defensive end brings, a team will draft Freeland as an unfinished project who might only need minimal tinkering to become an effective bookend.
Freeland was a three-sport athlete in high school, adding impressive prep careers playing basketball and throwing the javelin to his football expertise. He’s added over 50 lbs. to his frame in his four years at BYU, with the room to add more on a professional strength and conditioning program. The athleticism and footwork are there, but he will need to work to be able to keep his size as an advantage and not something that can be exploited. To do that, he will need to master keeping leverage with his gigantic frame, becoming a tactical technician with his hands and upper body when in pass sets. He has also further progressed as a run blocker.
It would be a mistake to draft Freeland in the first round, where you might expect a plug-and-play prospect. But his fit becomes a lot more palatable at pick No. 78 in the third round. Most outlets have Freeland mocking somewhere in the late third. Conserving that he has many of the traits Gutekunst and the Packers covet, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a green-and-gold jersey a little earlier in the third.