Caleb Jones Is Making A Case For the Packers To Keep 10 Offensive Linemen

Rookie undrafted tackles has shown good skills during preseason

The Green Bay Packers start the regular season on September 11, against the Minnesota Vikings, and there are still some question marks for what the 53-man roster will look like. One good example is the offensive line. David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were both activated from the physically unable to perform list, so they are cleared to practice and play — and they will count towards the 53. But that doesn't mean they will be ready to play in week 1 — especially Bakhtiari, who had a more serious injury and came back from PUP one week later than Jenkins.

Considering those factors, the Packers can realistically change their recent approach and keep 10 offensive linemen to have more depth while their two best players in the unit aren't fully recovered. Since Matt LaFleur became the head coach, in 2019, the Packers have kept nine offensive linemen on the initial 53-man roster each and every season.

Right now, those are the locks: the projected starters David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, and Elgton Jenkins; the rookies Zach Tom (who can become an immediate starter) and Sean Rhyan; plus backups Yosh Nijman and Jack Hanson, who have played as starters in the absence of Bakhtiari and Jenkins. Those are nine players basically guaranteed to make the roster.

If Bakhtiari and/or Jenkins aren't ready for week 1, though, it might be smart to keep an extra player. In this case, the best solution might be to keep rookie undrafted tackle Caleb Jones.

Jones is a physical phenom: 6-9, 370lbs, and he has been impressively polished during his preseason action. With this much potential, it's hard to believe Caleb Jones would clear waivers if cut. Thinking strategically, it makes more sense to keep Jones on the 53 and waive fellow rookie Rasheed Walker, who has more chances to clear waivers and could be brought back to the practice squad — starting this year, teams can promote practice squad players to gameday three times during the season if needed.

Sports Illustrated' scouting report indicates Caleb Jones is a good developmental project:

"Displays a good base and keeps his feet underneath his body at all times in pass protection and while run blocking. He is patient in pass pro and waits for edge defenders to show their hands before he attacks. Hands are refined and shows plus placement and timing in pass pro."

There are also concerning factors, some that are harder than others to develop:

"Poor footwork and lack of explosiveness limit his upside at the next level. He struggles versus edge rushers with speed and burst and plays with too high of pad level. Lacks the bend, balance and burst to be a high end tackle. No real recovery due to lack of core strength and hip flexibility."

But those are all natural limitations for a player who went undrafted. And Caleb Jones has shown during preseason games that he has plenty of upside to justify a roster spot. Caleb Jones played 41 games for Indiana and started the final 31 of them. He made 24 starts at right tackle and six at left tackle.

As Sam Holman exemplified on Twitter, Jones has impressive length and uses it to dominate rushers.

He is also very strong, which indicates he knows how to distribute his body weight to generate power while blocking.

One aspect that you wouldn't think Jones has as a positive is agility, but he is pretty mobile and capable of doing zone blocking, a significant part of Matt LaFleur's offensive scheme

Caleb Jones is a developmental prospect, and maybe the Packers think there is no space for him on the active roster. But you never have enough good offensive linemen, and Jones has a big potential to develop — and other teams are watching it in preseason tape too.

Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinal/USA Today Network

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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7 points

Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Thank you for pointing out visually the fact that he is surprisingly agile for a man mountain. The huge slow guy stereotype was what I expected but is not what he is now. He has surprisingly nimble feet too. I think his loss of weight has transformed him. We see him moving very well in both pass and run scenarios.

I think it’s possible that they IR Walker for the year and red shirt him. It all depends on how long that injury is going to linger.

13 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:52 pm

Can we get Wendell into the front office? He's making the points you've been convincing me with since camp started.

How big will Caleb be when he grows up. WOW he's a load! He'll wear out defenders leaning on them for a couple quarters.

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x24's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:17 pm

Good feet, and he bends at the knees!

In order to win the leverage battle, offensive lineman need to get lower than their opponent. This is no small task for "to tall" O lineman. Many players fall into a bad habit of bending at the waist, we've seen this before in tall players (Tony Moll and Breno Giacomini come to mind)

Caleb Jones has good feet, and he bends at the waist to win the leverage battle

2 points
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canadapacker's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:32 pm

When I watched the game and they highlited his punch down of that D end - I said to myself - this guy might have Njimon written all over him. I have been wishing for some guys who are bulldozers on our Oline ( and I know that protecting AR is paramount). Even if he comes in as sort of an extra Olineman or something for Dillon/Jones to run behind in a red zone package later in the year - he will be worth a roster spot because if not - some other team will pick him up for sure -based upon what he has done in preseason.

6 points
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mnbadger's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:33 pm

I love that he stared down Granderson after taking him completely out of the play. Meanness is not a bad trait for an OT.
Plus, he covers two time zones so even the fastest edge rushers are going to need an extra moment or two to get home. If he matures physically and refines his skills, he could be a long time GBP. Don't expose him to PS. GPG!

10 points
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Tundraboy's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:40 pm

My crush. He's a keeper.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Crush is an apt word.

Too Small Jones …

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:03 pm

Caleb the Giant! Very athletic for a young man that big. He will get stronger.

And one reason he was not drafted was his ability to get even bigger...up to 450 LBS in college. That's a risk.

He is an ideal PS candidate. Make him Yosh 2.0. Packers prioritized PS candidates almost always make the final PS Squad. Who was the last one that did not? Taysom Hill?

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murf7777's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:48 pm

We’re on the same page but we are the minority. I think he’s a great practice squad candidate. Let’s see if he can keep his weight down or even to 350 that would help.

I think Tom is the diamond in the rough he’s already played four positions and he played the right tackle very well both run and pass. His feet are nimble and he gets low.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:02 pm

Tom is indeed nimble and consistently gets under the pads. Great leverage too.

With no setbacks, Dave, Jenks, Myers, JRJ, Yosh are the best 5. Back ups Hanson, Tom, Newman, Rhyan...and CVL if they keep 10. I just don't see room for Caleb the Giant on the 53.

-2 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:17 pm

Traded CVL for a pick (Panthers)

There is very little likelihood that one team won’t see that film and want Jones in my opinion. There’s too much potential for a plus starter there. I do not know why they moved him to left, that just made stashing him less likely to work.

As to Tom, it looks like he can’t beat out Newman. The team may like him, but I think they know he needs more power. He’s a swing guy with a future and a a lot of time in the weight room.

The future of the O line next year looks good. I’m still lost in Hanson as a starter, but they aren’t it seems. Post Bakh we could have a set stable with depth.

3 points
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PatB's picture

August 24, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Minor correction: CVL went to the other 1995 expansion team (Jaguars).

I'm inclined to agree about Jones. If the plan is to develop young players, the potential is more apparent in him than in several players expected to make the roster.

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freddisch's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:47 pm

He will never clear waivers and make it to the PS

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barutanseijin's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:04 pm

How did this guy not get drafted?

2 points
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murf7777's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:50 pm

That’s because people his size are a big risk, no pun intended. There are exceptions in the NFL but very few that do well at that size. Also just because he has shined against second third and fourth stringers doesn’t mean he would do well against much quicker nimble pass rushers. He also struggles when he’s pulling to run block.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:37 pm

More than you think despite some names yesterday and the key is athletic prowess and size not just being big is key.

He’s actually been good pulling. Sounds like you just want Tom to look good despite what’s in front of you. Potential wise, much more here as long as he stays dedicated to staying at weight. You can like Tom better, and it’s possible he ends up being better in pads not shorts, but that’s no reason to make up things. Next you will be telling us he’s caught more passes than Doubs.

One can never have enough Tackles. Our supply chain looks good. Nijman, Jenkins and 2 first contract guys in reserve of Bakh leaves. Be happy.

1 points
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murf7777's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:00 pm

I’m not making up anything CW. What was it that I made up?Watch his game film and you will see he struggled while pulling and trying to block. Also, regarding people his size 370+ there was a person who just wrote an article and explained how few people make it at that size. I would keep him on the practice squad and see where he heads.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:45 pm

I read it, there are several who have and are. The sample size is small to start off with. Being big doesn’t cut it alone, you have to have athleticism and a monstrous frame. He does.

When they signed him I paid him little heed. But, just listening to people attending and reading got me looking. This isn’t the guy I thought we had got. I’ve made that journey based upon what I see. A surprisingly nimble, massive man. He’s not perfect. I don’t think the 400 plus pound (possibly 450 by rumor) was asked to pull much. That version wasn't able to move like this. His feet were slow and his bend minimal, reducing his strength as applied.

This version is very different. The clips actually do a very good job of illustrating the above. That doesn’t mean he’s technically polished. He’s got some technical work to do. It doesn’t mean he’s as fleet footed as Tom. He’s not and most tackles aren’t. It does mean that I’ve come to see him as we see him here, showing functional strength and mobility. When one can find a guy with those assets and that physique you do not look the gift horse in the mouth. He is far too rare a prospect to risk waiver on, especially now he has film doing that at LT.

There is always a chance prospects don’t develop. That was a risk with Nijman (much rawer technically, athletically off the charts). That said, you could see things he did that showed what he might be. Jones is more polished and not as athletically freakish but he’s got huge and visible upside just as he is. Much more obvious than Nijman’s as a rookie barely seen in camp as a result. He’s not one you risk on waiver. A guard maybe, a promising tackle rarely, and a guy like him not at all. Too much upside. Too valuable a position. The film here shows why very succinctly. Those physical traits can be built upon.

0 points
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murf7777's picture

August 23, 2022 at 06:21 pm

Well we will soon find out what the packers thinks for Caleb and Toure who we also disagree with. I think they both go to PS…time will tell.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 23, 2022 at 09:23 pm

Murf, I agree with you a lot of the time, but I can’t believe Caleb Jones would clear waivers. IMO, we will lose Jones if we don’t keep him on the 53.

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murf7777's picture

August 24, 2022 at 08:18 am

LH, we’ll we both agree how important OL and DL are to the success of a team, so you are probably right, especially now that they traded CVL.

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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:29 pm

Weight. He was too large and too slow. Losing 50 odd, maybe more, pounds has made him radically more nimble. It’s also allowing him to use his frame and power more effectively. That clip is a good example of functional power.

Whether the Packers knew that or got lucky, he could be a huge steal. Tom is thought by many near maxed (His major knock along with a small frame) physically and technically. This guy can be refined. How much I don’t know, but enough other teams will be salivating over in a potential LT.

I’d like to see him start instead of Newman, just to see how he did. But it looks like they are sticking with that despite Rodgers not being happy with his protection yesterday.

-1 points
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jont's picture

August 23, 2022 at 01:41 pm

"lack of core strength"

One year in an NFL weight room will cure that.

3 points
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stockholder's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:26 pm

He should start.

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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:02 pm

Over Newman? Maybe. Over Bakh, Jenkins or Nijman? No. But he would be potentially useful in certain ST situations or as a power TE/6th lineman. Probably unlikely that he’s active unless that’s a game specific strategy at this point.

1 points
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coolhand's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:31 pm

I would love to see CJ on ST for field goals or extra points. Line him up in the middle, and have him push to penetrate and get his big paws up for a block. Would be fun to watch.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:32 pm

Ourlads depth chart shows him at RT. I know they like Tom. But I'd keep Tom for back up. Use the bigger guy on the right. Nijman at Back-up LT. And Keep Jenkins at LG. ( Until Rodgers retires. ) Jenkins Leg injury jeopardizes him long term. ( Especially after they paid Bahk.) Runyan to RG with Newman. It's the best OL to Give Rodgers time.

5 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

August 23, 2022 at 11:38 pm

You crazy. The difference between starters and 2nd string at Edge is vast in the pros. He's looked good and worth keeping but he is not ready for the suddenness of top NFL Edge players.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 23, 2022 at 02:57 pm

10 OL, 2 QB, 6WR. 3 RB. 4TE equals 25. We should keep 10, and Caleb Jones should be that #10 guy.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:05 pm

Does that include Van Lanen, who is now a Panther?

1 points
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coolhand's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:35 pm

Keep Caleb, move Hanson to the PS.

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 23, 2022 at 06:40 pm

It did. The 5 starters…Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Newman. Jenkins, with Bakhtiari, Tom, Rhyan, Hanson, Van Lanen.

I figured those ten, but I’d rather keep Jones than Van Lanen.

0 points
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PhantomII's picture

August 23, 2022 at 10:50 pm

I hope Newman has found the Gym...Zero muscle tone.

0 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:32 pm

I agree with 6 WRs:

Lazard
Watkins
Cobb
Doubs
Watson
Winfree

Toure to the PS

3 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 23, 2022 at 05:56 pm

They're keeping Amari Rodgers. No doubt about that.

-2 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

August 23, 2022 at 06:07 pm

Why?

3 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 24, 2022 at 01:38 am

Yup.

This seems obvious to me. In a week, we shall see what the Packers think.

0 points
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1962Packer's picture

August 23, 2022 at 03:02 pm

Third or fourth and one at the goal line, or for a first down. In walks Caleb Jones as a TE, to be a lead blocker, or a running back. Anyone remember back in the 80s "The Refrigerator"? Unfortunately played for Chicago.

7 points
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Slim11's picture

August 25, 2022 at 11:10 am

Could be a Kevin Barry role for him. It was the 75 package. Barry, a reserve tackle, lined up as a third TE in short yardage situations.

0 points
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PatrickGB's picture

August 23, 2022 at 06:23 pm

I see potential. At first I pegged him as just a big guy.. but he can move. If he works on his fundamentals he could be a decent backup.

0 points
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Fubared's picture

August 23, 2022 at 06:31 pm

get three more just like him and start plowing the road. correct his little flaws and you end up with a diamond in the ruff all right. I love this guy he is fun to watch.

1 points
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PhantomII's picture

August 23, 2022 at 10:55 pm

Yep...Get rid of this stretch run B.S. and run strait ahead...The closest path to a TD and the only way to run on fast ILB's that have dominated ML scheme.

0 points
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jlc1's picture

August 23, 2022 at 09:58 pm

So how, when you're throwing a pass to that side do you get the ball over or around him? How do you even see well on that side? Seriously, he is just so unusual unusual things can crop up.

0 points
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Bure9620's picture

August 23, 2022 at 10:09 pm

Sign me up. He is the only player I would worry being claimed if cut.

1 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

August 23, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Most here said Nijman would never clear waivers too... This is pretty vanilla defense, making things easier to diagnose. Nijman struggled a lot last year with 9-tech rushers. I don't see enough lateral movement in the clips to sooth that concern for Jones. But he has crazy size, taht is for sure.

0 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 24, 2022 at 02:02 am

Nijman made the initial 53 last year (august 31, 2021). He did not go through waivers. Nijman made the 53 in 2020 and did not go through waivers.

Nijman was released in 2019 and cleared waivers. Was he sent through waivers after initial cut downs in 2020 or 2021 and cleared them but I just don't remember? If not, then 2019 was the last time he was exposed to waivers, and that's a long time ago. Here is a link to the 2020 initial 53 man roster.

Not but what you wrote isn't essentially true: every year fans worry about guys not being able to get through waivers, and then they practically all do. I like to think I am all about math and probabilities, yet I don't want to test that notion in the case of Caleb Jones. Nijman wasn't ready to actually play in 2019 (arguably in 2020 as well), and Jones probably isn't ready to actually play in 2022, so I ought to be agreeing with you, but ... I got nothing.

https://www.packers.com/news/here-s-the-packers-initial-53-man-roster

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

August 23, 2022 at 11:48 pm

He reminds me of Phil Loadholt, who played RT for the Vikings for a few years. I doubt he has the feet for LT but a year on the PS/inactive 10th guy at RT could give him a chance to stick.

As for a 6th O lineman on short yardage situations I think I'd rather see Tom in there. The further outside you go the smaller player you're facing. Tom can dance and push the smaller guys. Jones got stood up a few times in running plays against the 49ers, his man didn't make the play but he wasn't going against 1s either.

0 points
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