At this point, with the lure of a return to the playoffs so close and with the Green Bay Packers looking at the chance to fully accelerate into the Jordan Love Era with a postseason run, draft position is not of much concern. But just behind Love’s ability to replace Aaron Rodgers lurks another gaping hole left by a likely future Hall of Famer, one that the Packers have yet to fill. That’s David Bakhtiari’s left tackle spot.
The upcoming draft is well-stocked with good candidates at the position. But the more the Packers win, the more they slip away from a chance to grab one of the top LTs on the board.
That is the thinking behind a Bleacher Report piece urging the Packers to move up in the draft this offseason to secure the right David Bakhtiari fill-in.
“The Packers have done a great job of drafting and developing linemen in the past, but figuring out who is going to protect Jordan Love’s blindside is something that should require a blue-chip prospect,” analyst Alex Ballentine noted, adding that there are as many as five potential first-rounders at the position.
But the Packers should be picky (so to speak) in this draft. They should identify their man at the position and be aggressive in getting him.
“The problem is with positional scarcity at tackle, the Packers might not have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for who will fall to them,” Ballentine wrote. “If there’s a tackle they like more than the others then a trade should be on the table to move up the board and get their guy.”
Mock Drafts Focus on Left Tackle
Most NFL mock drafts have the Packers looking either at left tackle or a cornerback in the first round this year. Certainly, the cornerback pick is more keeping with the team’s philosophy, given that Green Bay has taken defensive players in 12 of the last 13 draft (picking Love was the exception).
GM Brian Gutekunst, coach Matt LaFleur and the Packers have done well with their homegrown offensive line, but they do not have an anchor at left tackle. The spot is currently held by David Bakhtiari’s backup, Rasheed Walker, a seventh-round pick from a year ago. The Packers will need to upgrade the spot.
ESPN.com has the Packers taking Alabama tackle JC Latham in the first round in 2024. SI.com, Pro Football Focus and 33rd Team have the Packers taking Georgia’s Amarius Mims. Both are hefty prospects who could play right away.
David Bakhtiari Not Likely to Return
There is still a possibility that David Bakhtiari returns to the Packers in some fashion next season, though it is a longshot. The team can save about $21 million off the cap by cutting him, and that is money the team needs to beef up other positions and retain some of its own players.
Bakhtiari could potentially return to Green Bay even after he is cut on a small contract. But the Packers appear ready to move on from Bakhtiari. Since he first tore his ACL in December 2020, he has been unable to stay on the field, and has had five surgeries.
He shows flashes of the old David Bakhtiari when he plays—he is still among the top left tackles in the game—but he has played just 13 games in three seasons. And he’s 32, the oldest guy on a Packers team in the midst of a youth movement.
The Packers will be looking for a new left tackle. And they probably should do everything they can to get the one they want in this draft.