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NFL Draft Preview: Offensive line pool deep in first three rounds

Our sixth look at the 2020 NFL Draft as it relates to the Green Bay Packers is a summary of the offensive linemen available, both along the interior and at the tackle positions. As the largest position group on the field on offense on the vast majority of plays, and typically the largest position group on an NFL roster, turnover is pretty much a given. As such, the Packers have already made a swap at tackle, watching Bryan Bulaga exit while signing Rick Wagner to replace him.

Green Bay's taken five offensive linemen in the NFL Draft the past four seasons, including a second-round pick. However, just two of those picks are still with the team: reserve guard Cole Madison and starting guard Elgton Jenkins. Other than 2015, Green Bay's picked up at least one player for the offensive line in every Draft going back to the Ron Wolf years, so it stands to reason they'll be looking to add some depth, particularly at tackle, in this year's event.

Here's the Packers' Draft order as of today:

NFL Draft Preview: Packers hold 10 selections in 2020 Draft - Thumbnail Image

NFL Draft Preview: Packers hold 10 selections in 2020 Draft

While the current offensive line looks set, with the top six firmly entrenched, there are contract decisions looming for the Packers after the 2020 season. Left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley are due for significant paydays once the season ends. Lane Taylor and Alex Light are on expiring deals as well. Recent free agent signings Billy Turner and Rick Wagner at right guard and right tackle, respectively, are in place on multi-year deals, as is last year's second-round pick, Elgton Jenkins, at left guard. Cole Madison and Lucas Patrick, depth pieces on the interior line, have deals that run through the 2021 season still. So that leaves immediate needs at tackle (both spots) and possibly at center or guard depending on how the team views and values its depth.

With that noted, let's start by looking at the tackle position. Green Bay will have no shot at the top four prospects - Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Andrew Thomas. A prospect that could go anywhere from mid-first round to early second round is Houston's Josh Jones, who is hard to project based on being more of a raw prospect than a finished, day-one starter product coming out of college.

It seems that better value will be had, should the Packers be targeting a tackle, in the second or third rounds, where a good half-dozen or so prospects fall on consensus big boards. Some of the higher-end prospects in this range include TCU's Lucas Niang, who is plug-and-play at tackle. Georgia's Isaiah Wilson is a massive prospect who could offer immediate help on the right side of the line, and a player who left college after his redshirt sophomore season. Falling on the side of true prospects that seem to have more upside than immediate help include Auburn's Prince Tega Wanogho, Ben Bartch of St. John, and Saahdiq Charles of LSU.

Mid-round targets would include UConn's Matthew Peart and Boise State's Ezra Cleveland. College tackles that could slide over to guard in the mid-round range include Auburn right tackle Jack Driscoll and Kansas left tackle Hakeem Adeniji. An intriguing late-round target could be North Carolina's Charlie Heck, as well as West Virginia's Colton McKivitz, who both could play either tackle spot.

Along the interior line, the Packers are more or less set for 2020, having invested a second-round pick last year in Elgton Jenkins. They also have the services of Billy Turner long-term, and Corey Linsley could be brought back after his contract is up this season. However, beyond the projected starters, there could be a move to shore up the depth for 2020 and beyond.

Given the current commitments, it would seem odd if the Packers grabbed projected late-first to early-third prospects like Cesar Ruiz, Lloyd Cushenberry, or Jonah Jackson. Given other teams' needs, those prospects will exit the boards faster than their rankings on various Big Boards would suggest.

There's a lot of volatility with interior line prospects in general, particularly in the second through fourth or fifth rounds of the Draft. If Green Bay was looking at upgrades here, they could be checking in on players like Temple's Matt Hennessy, Fresno State's Netane Muti, or LSU's Damien Lewis. Versatility here is key, so of the trio of Day 2 prospects, Muti would fit the best in Green Bay. Another versatile pick with plenty of intangibles is Louisiana's Robert Hunt.

Two prospects with local ties, Wisconsin's Tyler Biadasz and Michigan's Ben Bredeson (a native of Hartland, WI), are long-time college starters who are also solid Day 2 projections. The Wisconsin natives are solidly into nearly every mock draft and big board as second- or third-round picks, and both bring a wealth of experience to a team seeking a contender for a starting spot from the first day of camp.

Most of the Day 3 types are dependent on scheme and role, as most of the depth of this class is in the second through fourth rounds. Look for players who can fit a variety of systems, like Kyle Murphy of Rhode Island or Solomon Kindley of Georgia, to be targets late in the Draft for a team like the Packers.

Offensive line is by far the most difficult projection for the average fan to make. Most of the time, a lineman selection won't generate as much enthusiasm as a skill position player, and for whatever reason, the Packers have done better drafting later rather than earlier with their offensive line selections. Elgton Jenkins in 2019 and Bryan Bulaga in 2011 are notable exceptions, but the Packers have been stellar at finding prospects in the middle of the Draft, including fourth-round picks on David Bakhtiari, J.C. Tretter, T.J. Lang, and Josh Sitton, as well as Corey Linsley as a fifth-round pick. That's about the spot you would expect Green Bay to get serious about finding someone up front if they spend their top picks addressing key needs at wide receiver, linebacker, and perhaps running back, tight end, or interior defensive line.

The NFL Draft is April 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Teams will conduct their Draft selections remotely.

Photo: Getty Images (Ben Bredesen)

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