Packers' Position Battles to Watch Ahead of 2022 NFL Season
The Green Bay Packers will enter 2022 as a Super Bowl contender once again, albeit with some roster spots that need to be figured out.
They will bring back enough of the nucleus that claimed the No. 1 seed in the NFC before an upset loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round to be considered among the favorites in the conference.
They also lost enough names to ensure roster questions will need to be sorted out in OTAs and training camp.
Here's a look at three spots that need to be addressed before the season gets started on the road against the Minnesota Vikings on September 11.
Let's start with the obvious: The wide receiver room at Lambeau Field is the biggest question heading into the season.
The loss of Davante Adams via trade to the Las Vegas Raiders was the most publicized loss of the offseason for the Packers. But the departure of Marquez Valdes-Scantling shouldn't be dismissed, either.
Adams leaves a huge target share (169) behind and the benefit of a No. 1 receiver who must be accounted for on every play. However, Valdes-Scantling was a deep threat who drew 55 targets in 11 games last year.
That's a total of well over 200 targets that will now go elsewhere. The problem is, it isn't clear who will assume the various roles in the offense.
The incumbents include Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard while rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will have every opportunity to prove themselves. Sammy Watkins could be an under-the-radar steal in free agency if he manages to stay healthy, but that has been a challenge.
With Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball and head coach Matt LaFleur still in charge, it's safe to bet the Packers will get the position figured out, but it's still a major question heading into the season.
The Packers had to shuffle the deck several times on the offensive line last season, and that versatility could pay off this year as they work to find the best five-man configuration.
Left tackle will be manned by David Bakhtiari, assuming he is healthy after missing most of 2021 with a torn ACL. Jon Runyan had the highest PFF grade of the returning starters last season and is most likely the starter at left guard.
Josh Myers should be penciled in as a starter at center unless rookie Zach Tom has a phenomenal summer.
That leaves right guard and tackle as the most unclear positions heading into the summer. Elgton Jenkins will eventually start at one of the spots. He had a Pro Bowl season in 2020, but he only played in eight games last year and will need time to recover from an ACL injury.
However, Green Bay will need to find a starting right tackle and guard at least until Jenkins comes back. Yosh Nijman filled in admirably last season, but he'll have competition from rookies Sean Rhyan and Tom as well as Royce Newman, who made 16 starts in his first season last year.
No. 3 Edge
When healthy, the Packers had a dominant pass-rushing trio in Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary last season.
However, Za'Darius Smith has signed with the Minnesota Vikings following his release. The 29-year-old only played in one game last season because of a back injury, so Green Bay made do last season but has now had time to come up with a formal plan.
Part of that plan involved drafting Kingsley Enagbare, who will compete with Jonathan Garvin. Preston Smith and Gary were on the field for 63 percent of the snaps last season, and Garvin was the third option, playing 36.6 percent of the snaps.
With Enagbare on the roster, Garvin is not a lock to get those snaps again. He only logged 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss and five quarterback hits in his second season.
Enagbare, 22, received a fourth-round grade as a potential role player from the B/R Scouting Department. He'll have an opportunity to live up to that right away.