Green Bay Packers

Zach Tom Is Green Bay's Most Indispensable Player

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman via USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have given their offensive line a major facelift this offseason. They released David Bakhtiari, and Jon Runyan and Yosh Nijman signed with other teams. Still, the Packers will return three starters: Josh Myers, Elgton Jenkins, and Zach Tom.

Jenkins is a Pro Bowl anchor on the left side, but the Packers have a significant void to fill after losing Runyan and Bakhtiari. Now more than ever, they will rely on Tom because the starting tackle must be a consistent presence.

Keeping Jordan Love upright and opening lanes for new star running back Josh Jacobs is of the utmost importance for the Packers offense in 2024. Tom will be a vital part of that as an anchor on the right side of the line.

The Packers will likely start Sean Rhyan at right guard. While Rhyan has flashed potential, opponents exposed him numerous times in run blocking and pass protection at the end of last season. That means Green Bay must rely on Tom to be even better as he holds down the right side of the offensive line.

Tom had a respectable 77.8 PFF grade last year. PFF ranked him as the 16th-best tackle in the NFL last season, one spot behind Bakhtiari, who only played in one game. Tom played in all 17 games, including both playoff games, and was steady throughout.

The stability of Green Bay’s O-line would crumble if they lose Tom.

Entering the draft, the Packers don’t have much depth at tackle. Losing Nijman, their primary swing tackle, and Bakhtiari, their starting tackle, hurts. Royce Newman has experience playing tackle, but the less Newman is on the field for Green Bay, the better.

The Packers also still have uncertainty at the opposite tackle spot. Rasheed Walker filled in admirably and is slated to be the starter heading into next season. Walker was solid in his 15 starts this past season, but there are still concerns about how the former seventh-rounder can hold up throughout an entire season.

Tom has the positional versatility to play center. He played four snaps at center this past season, but the Packers probably need him more at tackle than they do center. However, desperate times may call for desperate measures.

The Packers could address the offensive line early in the draft. But if that’s the case, it will probably happen on the interior. The tackle they select is unlikely to make a better impact than Walker’s.

The last time the Packers took an offensive lineman in the first round was Derek Sherrod in 2011. The season before that, they took Bryan Bulaga out of Iowa. The Packers have found starting and even All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in the later rounds of the draft. Even Tom was a fourth-round selection out of Wake Forest two years ago.

If Tom goes down, the Packers would still probably slide Jenkins over to left tackle and plug in a veteran along the interior. Whether that is Newman, a rookie, or a free-agent signing, Jenkins has played tackle at an elite level in Green Bay before. He could do it again in a pinch.

Tom and the Packers have been blessed by his clean bill of health throughout his young career. The Packers have never been thinner at offensive line and especially tackle. Green Bay needs their premier right-side blocker now more than ever.

All stats and data via ESPN and PFF unless otherwise noted.

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