Green Bay Packers

2024 Is A Spotlight Year For Rasheed Walker

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the Green Bay Packers start training camp later this month, people will scrutinize their offensive line setup as the team continues experimenting with its ideal starting five.

Green Bay is good at finding offensive linemen in the draft and prefers finding versatile talents who can play multiple spots, so this isn’t exactly a new thing. Still, the Packers did something they haven’t done since 2010: draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

All eyes will be on the versatile Jordan Morgan, who fits the classic tackle-to-guard build Green Bay covets. Still, he will get every chance to prove he belongs at tackle. A lineman with shorter arms has never stopped the Packers from playing a prospect at tackle.

But while the spotlight will be on Morgan, we can’t forget about Rasheed Walker, who admirably handled the left tackle spot after some early struggles. This is a big prove-it year for the former seventh-rounder, who can show this season that he’s the team’s long-term answer on Jordan Love‘s blindside. With potential competition at the spot between Walker, Morgan, and newly-signed Andre Dillard, this season will determine whether Walker is a preferred starter, the primary swing-tackle backup, or something else.

David Bakhtiari started against the Chicago Bears in Week 1 last season. However, when it was clear he would be out for another season, people became concerned about who would protect Love’s blindside in his first year as a starter.

Surprisingly, Walker got the nod over Yosh Nijman, who’d previously manned the spot in relief for Bakhtiari. Walker had his ups and downs (not uncommon with last year’s offense) before settling into the role as a reliable starter in the back half of the season.

On the whole, he allowed six sacks and 36 pressures. Via PFF, among the 50 qualifying tackles, Walker was 35th in pass-blocking efficiency and 41st in run-blocking. He finished the season with a solid overall score of 66.3.

However, PFF liked Walker’s growth and put him No. 1 on their list of offensive linemen poised to break out in 2024. They lauded his consistency, posting only two games with a below-average grade, and his mammoth 6’6”, 324 lb. size.

“Perhaps the most under-the-radar candidate on this list, the seventh-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft earned the starting job for the Packers last season,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote, “Early in training camp, he looked like a major work in progress but earned a solid overall grade of 66.3 and was particularly good in pass protection (74.7) in his first year of starting action.

“He will be very good next season if he can continue his progression. If he can improve his run-blocking, he could become outstanding.”

Morgan played left tackle in college and is the biggest threat to Walker’s future there. The coaching staff has thrown Morgan everywhere along the line but center to figure out their best five and Morgan’s ideal long-term starting role.

Assuming, for now, the Packers prefer to keep Elgton Jenkins at left guard, Josh Myers at center, and Zach Tom at right tackle (despite our theory-crafting), Morgan’s two most likely spots to push for a starting role would be at left tackle or right guard (against Sean Rhyan).

Walker’s best-case scenario is that Morgan finds a home at right guard. But even if the Packers fancy Morgan a tackle, the team generally favors the veteran. Walker should get a chance to prove he’s the man for the job, even with a shiny new toy nipping at his heels.

Former first-rounder Andre Dillard also saw starting snaps at left tackle during this spring’s offseason activities and is also firmly in the mix there, even if he seems to have a longer shot.

Matt LaFleur praised the way Walker welcomed the competition, saying, “There’s only two ways you can go about it, and I think he’s chosen the right way.”

“I feel elite,” Walker said during OTAs. “Names and labels don’t really dictate how I move. I see man just as man is. I’m in a good spot. I’m never really worried about who I’m going against. It’s, ‘Am I prepared? What do I have to do to prepare?’ That’s where I keep my focus on.”

Considering Walker’s positive growth over last season and how Green Bay tends to handle rookies, I think he will open the season as the starting left tackle and man the spot until anything major changes. A successful season means Walker becomes Green Bay’s latest Day 3 success story, and the left tackle spot is his. If he lets Morgan catch up, he might take Nijman’s old role as a capable swing tackle. A rough year, and he could be a forgotten man on the depth chart. The latter seems unlikely, though.

It’s a big year for the 2022 seventh-rounder, but thus far, he’s proven the lights aren’t too bright for him.

Green Bay Packers
The Packers Still Hold the Ultimate Trump Card In the NFC North
By Evan Pricco - Jul 14, 2024
Green Bay Packers
The Packers Need To Know What They Have In Sean Rhyan
By Felipe Reis - Jul 13, 2024
Green Bay Packers

Is A Packers Training Camp Trade On the Horizon?

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The best general managers are constantly looking for ways to improve their roster. Brian Gutekunst has been quoted multiple times saying that roster building is a 365-day-a-year […]

Continue Reading