There's No Such Thing As Too Much OL Depth

If there's one thing we've learned early on this season, it is that there is no such thing as too much offensive line depth, and Lucas Patrick has been a good example as to why.

With the salary cap plummeting this season, many of us thought that the Green Bay Packers were going to undergo a number of personnel changes in order to get under the $182.5 million mark. But here we are in the third week of October, and Corey Linsley and Jamaal Williams are the only significant players from last year's team that are playing elsewhere.
 
Several players could have been cap casualties, most notably Preston Smith and Dean Lowry, but as the draft took place and summer unfolded, Lucas Patrick became a part of that conversation as well--at least among the fan base.
 
Patrick was coming off an unspectacular yet solid 2020 season in which his 21 pressures allowed ranked 12th out of 86 guards, according to PFF. He would rank sixth among guards in ESPN's pass-block win rate, and his run-blocking grade from PFF ranked 31st--again, not bad.
 
However, this was a Green Bay Packers team that had invested six draft picks along the offensive line between the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts--all of which could play either center or guard, just as Patrick does. Over the summer, there was also the emergence of Ben Braden, who was competing for playing time at one point.
 
To put it simply, Green Bay had options, and there was no guarantee that Patrick was going to be a starter, even with how well he played in 2020. Add in that the Packers could have saved almost $2 million in cap space by moving on from him -- no, that's not a huge amount, but the Packers needed all the help they could get -- and Patrick became a cut candidate.
 
But as we all know, Patrick is still a Green Bay Packer, which is a good thing. As we learned in 2020 and are finding to be especially true in 2021, there is no such thing as too much offensive line depth. 
 
Last season, this Packers offense was the best in football by points per game and DVOA, and one big reason was the play of this offensive line unit, who was the best in football by several metrics. Despite missing David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, among others at various points of the season, they continued to play at a very high level.
 
This season, Green Bay again has had to overcome injuries -- quite a few actually -- but the Packers still find themselves 5-1 despite going up against some of the better defensive fronts in football.
 
While collectively, the offensive line unit isn't playing at last year's level -- and that's not what expectations should be at this point -- they've held up well, all things considered.
 
Green Bay currently ranks fifth in ESPN's pass-block win rate metric and ninth in run-blocking. We've seen Yosh Nijman fill in at left tackle and Jon Runyan take over at left guard. In fact, at one point when Elgton Jenkins was out, four of the Packers' five starting offensive linemen had made thier first NFL Start in 2021.
 
Most recently, we saw Patrick come off the bench to play center in Josh Myers' absence. Patrick lost the starting left guard spot to Runyan but has filled in well at center, which of the two positions may be his better spot. 
 
Against Cincinnati and Chicago, Patrick is yet to allow a sack, and he's given up just one pressure in 69 pass-blocking snaps. His play against the run was much improved in Chicago, and Matt LaFleur said that it was Patrick who graded out as the Packers' best offensive lineman that week as well. 
 
"He brings so much to it on a daily basis, just how he prepares, he's a guy that does everything the right way," said LaFluer. "From in the meeting room, then he can take it to the practice field, you know what you're going to get with Lucas. You're going to get a tough, gritty guy that's going to give you everything he has on every single rep. And I think that resonates with the other guys up front and our entire offensive unit."
 
Patrick, of course, comes with his limitations, but there are 31 other teams that would love to have a player of his caliber, who can line up at both guard positions as well as center, coming off the bench.
 
As good as Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones are, they need the offensive line help make this offense go. So if there is a position where you can never have too much depth, this is it, and Lucas Patrick, a potential cap casualty just a few months ago, is showing us why. 
 
"I tell him every single time he's out there that I love going to battle with him," Aaron Rodgers said when asked about Patrick via Packers.com, "because he's the kind of guy you know who's always going to have your back."

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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6 points

Comments (45)

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

October 22, 2021 at 11:17 am

If you want to run, you have to get guys blocked,and if you want to pass, you have to protect your QB. It’s that simple.

Patrick is one of the better interior linemen in the league. He’s versatile and dependable and not very expensive and the people who kept urging that we cut him to create cap space…….smh🤨

15 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 22, 2021 at 03:32 pm

He clears the pile and is in their face.

4 points
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PeteK's picture

October 22, 2021 at 04:33 pm

Absolutely, not easy coming in when you're not the starter and playing different positions. Also, lost his guard position to a rookie , but still hung tough and is a team player.

5 points
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Badacidtrip's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:34 am

The offensive line is a particularly unglamorous position. It is completely ignored in Fantasy Football. The only time you hear the names of these players is when they do something bad.

However, you can make a strong argument that one of the main reasons for the Packers' success in the last couple of years is the stellar play (and versatility!) of the offensive line.

I love these guys!

11 points
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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:43 am

Question: what does DVOA mean?

2 points
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PackfanNY's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:52 am

I believe it means Defensive Adjusted Value Over Average. In other words, taking into account the quality of the offensive opponent. I think I got this right. 🙂

4 points
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jhtobias's picture

October 22, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Nice Article, but why do people put so much value into pff. How does Pff even take into consideration game planning?

Anyway good article

3 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 22, 2021 at 12:35 pm

PFF is for those who need somebody to tell them who is playing well or not because they can only watch the ball. To not watch the ball is hard and is the main reason why anyone who loves the game and wants to see who is playing well or not will watch the game again and focus on positional play. However, the vast majority of people, prefer to copy and paste what others tell them and act and speak like they know what's what. Too lazy or ill-equipped mentally to do their own homework or just afraid to go against what they're told because it's easier to simply agree. This is the major problem with today's society, especially among the young.

0 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

October 22, 2021 at 03:42 pm

Can’t quite see how ranking offensive line play off a website translates to a major societal issue.

5 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 22, 2021 at 04:41 pm

Apparently, and as usual, you failed to recognize the simple connection.

It isn't the ranking, it's the comparison of those who just accept what they're told by PFF and those in society who do the same. With neither having the desire to research and make their own informed decision. Let me offer a clip that may help. Apply this to those who depend and believe only what PFF says.

https://youtu.be/4a6YdNmK77k

-3 points
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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:00 pm

The type of people who can't help but make everything into a political statement are typically the biggest lemmings of them all.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:48 pm

No political statement. Just inferring how many are like zombies when it comes to PFF.

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blacke00's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:05 am

Actually, I like the clip...probably because it's true!
I see your point about not doing "the work" to research your opinion but just take what others say and repeat it as the absolute truth. Unfortunately, it's true not just in sports but in all facets of society.

2 points
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blacke00's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:15 am

One other point. Didn't Patrick start at Left guard the first game of the season? And wasn't he replaced by Runyon during that game? Did he start at any position since that 1st game until he replaced Meyers at center?

2 points
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Archie's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:57 am

Hilarious comment.

0 points
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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 02:14 pm

Because analytics are running roughshod over everything. We can't not rank things and create all kinds of metrics that may or may not mean anything. Just like you indicate, there are issues with any kind of effectiveness rating, and any subjective system has fundamental biases built into it.

PFF is the most broadly accepted. When it comes to OL who don't generate numbers that show up in a box score, their metrics are about the only game in town.

9 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 22, 2021 at 03:33 pm

Sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night--rate that.

3 points
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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 04:05 pm

Each day I get to see it is a 99%!

5 points
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SanLobo's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:26 pm

Pro Football Focus is a tool. Like any tool, those who know how and when to use it, it can be very useful. For those who don’t, it will provide unreliable returns. For instance, scores can tend to drop for players in the playoffs…not necessarily because they are faltering in their performance, but more so they are facing better competition. Lots of factors can impact PFF scores. But it’s a just a tool.

4 points
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barutanseijin's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:30 am

It gets tougher against better competition in the playoffs? Really?

Thank Jeebus for PFFt! We wudda never knowed!

0 points
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ricky's picture

October 22, 2021 at 01:15 pm

Thank you, Adam Stenavich, for developing these guys and having them ready to play every week. All of them, because football is a game of attrition. And if you're confident that when you go, "Next man up" you're going to be OK, that is at least partially due to excellent coaching.

8 points
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Minniman's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:39 pm

Not dismissing Stenavich’s work (I’m becoming a borderline fan-boi anyway) but thank you also to the talent scouts who have been able to accurately translate MLF’s offensive philosophy into talent metrics.

That this dominant and entire offensive line has been built with no first round picks is astonishing. This has been the foundation of the Packers re-load in the MLF era.

4 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 23, 2021 at 02:28 pm

I keep saying this over and over.... Brain Gutekunst is the best GM in football, and maybe one of the best in all sports. (And if it wasn't for Bob Harlan convincing the Executive Committee to hire him over Mark Murphy's objections, where would the Packers be today. This organization really dodge a bullet...)

3 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 22, 2021 at 01:19 pm

I was among those who scratched their head when we drafted a bunch of linemen and when we brought in more linemen and kept Yosh. I have also thought that Turner was a waste of cap money. But it has done more than simply worked out. The fill ins have done a lot more than expected. Of course it also helps to have Lewis, Thunder and Lightning as well as a quicker pass game. Steno has been getting the best out of the line.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 22, 2021 at 04:48 pm

That is the proof how we, fans, knows sh*t about drafting, salary cap, evaluating and constructing the team.

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Minniman's picture

October 22, 2021 at 07:00 pm

That’s harsh Croat.……even those paid to get it right make constant mistakes (look at the procession of tryouts, signings and cuttings that Gute does).

Not having a bead on what system MLF wanted to implement (or being privy to the inside the building conversations) has merely led to entertaining speculation on peoples behalf, nothing more.

2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 23, 2021 at 01:57 am

I have no objection on what you wrote. You are right. It is entertaintment for us, but constantly complaining and demanding somebody to lose the job by only our ideas what would be right move is little to much.

How Gutekunst and FO job is hard you can find proof in the "procession of tryouts, signings and cuttings that Gute does".

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 23, 2021 at 10:51 am

All I know is what I read here ;-)

1 points
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barutanseijin's picture

October 24, 2021 at 08:01 am

Speak for yourself. Some of us really liked the OL moves.

1 points
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Swisch's picture

October 22, 2021 at 04:04 pm

If our line keeps playing so resourcefully and so well, it would be good to have a nickname for them as a unit -- such as the Seven Blocks of Granite, from Fordham University in the 1930s, one of whom was our very own Vince Lombardi (while the line coach was Frank Leahy, future head coach at Notre Dame).

2 points
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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2021 at 05:56 pm

I'm preferential to "The 2021 Green Bay Packers offensive line."

7 points
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Swisch's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:13 pm

Come on, Oppy, maybe a little more imagination.
Something memorable, like, "The Wall of Cheddar," or, "The Mighty Cheese Wedges."
Help me out here, if only to distract me from writing about the insidiousness of ouija boards as seen in, "The Exorcist" -- a topic which was in the main article, by the way, to repeat myself again, and only meant to help, really and truly. . .
Talk about being unpopular. It was if I was trying to buy oleo in a Wisconsin grocery, or started singing, "The Super Bowl Shuffle" in Appleton ;-).
I feel like Homer Simpson when his humorous caricature profile was taken down from the wall of Moe's Tavern, and his favorite song yanked out of the jukebox :-(.

0 points
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barutanseijin's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:35 am

I agree that you should think more about nicknames for the Packers than some nonsense from an old movie.

0 points
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Oppy's picture

October 23, 2021 at 09:23 am

In reconsideration, i offer up this olive branch. how about "THAT 2021 Green Bay Packers offensive line"

has a little more oomf! to it than my original offering.

1 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:10 pm

Ooo, Swisch, that's a keen idea, but only if they keep playing so resourcefully. If the unit stumbles and regresses, we must rein-in our enthusiasm to bestow a moniker upon them. I suggest they remain nickname-free until we are certain they are worthy.

7 points
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canadapacker's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:02 pm

Not to be too critical of our Oline - they definitely dont have the push the pile type of reputation and it shows especially on 3rd and 4th and 1. Now that being said they have always had high ratings and grades for Pass blocking and when you have a QB that needs to be protected and who lives by the pass because he is so good - that counts for a lot. However I would still think that it would be nice to have a few bulldozers who could let AR do a QB sneak or always push the pile so that the running back can easily get the 1 or 2 yards. But maybe that is why we now have Dillon in the backfield. Hopefully when the chips are down later in the colder weather he can be the difference maker especially in short yardage and maybe he can get TD;s from the 5 yard line on the ground as we have been having trouble with the red zone offence because other teams dont respect the run.

5 points
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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:26 pm

We'll see how that shifts as the Packers transition to a different QB and likely an even more ground-oriented approach.

3 points
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Qoojo's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:09 pm

Can you have too much depth of any position?

Considering the injuries, they have far exceeded expectations.

6 points
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THESZOTMAN1's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:28 pm

I like 7 Blocks of Granite.
How about 7 Angry Men (from 1955 flick)?
The Szotman

2 points
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Swisch's picture

October 23, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for the good entry, The Szotman.
If we include all the subs who have contributed on the offensive line, it may actually add up to, "12 Angry Men."
One of my favorite movies, by the way.

0 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:50 pm

I remember just a few years and the Packers had no depth. But a few good drafts and a good job of developing players. And now the Packers have depth that get them through games even when three starters are hurt. Every player is needed now to get through a longer season.

2 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:50 pm

I remember just a few years and the Packers had no depth. But a few good drafts and a good job of developing players. And now the Packers have depth that get them through games even when three starters are hurt. Every player is needed now to get through a longer season.

2 points
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packer132's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:40 pm

Patrick came to Green Bay undrafted, got cut, and worked up from the practice squad. He is only 28, and time will tell if he is back in 2022. He gets high marks from his teammates and works hard in practice and during the game. Bakhtiari, Turner, Nijman should be set at tackle with Jenkins, Runyan, Newman at guard. Myers at center. Patrick and Jenkins seem to be the most able to play other positions, and Injuries happen every year. Lucas is proving to be a very valuable player for the Packers.

5 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 23, 2021 at 02:31 pm

Turner will be a free agent next year. Just saying...

0 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 23, 2021 at 10:56 am

Even Valdeer and Wagner did ok as fill ins. Steno lost a pro bowl center and kept the train going. Amazing job mixing and matching each week. I have come around to become a big fan of the O-line coach.

4 points
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