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Sean Rhyan gives Packers young but experienced prospect up front

Three-year starter at left tackle for UCLA might also get a look at guard

UCLA T/G Sean Rhyan
UCLA T/G Sean Rhyan

GREEN BAY – On the one hand, Sean Rhyan is just 21 years old, turning 22 at the start of his rookie NFL season this fall.

On the other, he started 31 games at left tackle for UCLA over the past three years, so he's played plenty of high-level football at a difficult position at a young age.

"He's a true third-year junior, so a lot of experience for a young player," Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst said of his third-round draft choice Friday night. "We think his best football should be ahead of him."

Needing depth on their offensive line, the Packers used the No. 92 overall pick on a big (6-5, 321) tackle-guard prospect in Rhyan, who was a freshman All-America selection by several media outlets in 2019. Last season, he earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors from the conference's coaches and second-team recognition from the media.

While his college experience is at left tackle, the Packers believe he could slide inside to guard as well, so where he fits best remains an open question.

It's a typical Packers pick in the trenches, where a number of college tackles over the years – Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang from a decade-plus ago, Jon Runyan and Royce Newman more recently – wound up developing at guard as pros.

Then again, if he can prove himself at tackle, he'll have opportunity there.

"Pass pro and run blocking, very, very consistent," Gutekunst said of his game film. "I thought he had some really good balance, flexibility for a man his size."

He's also proven to be durable, claiming he never missed a snap at UCLA due to injury. Rhyan said he only came out of a game if the Bruins had a big lead and others were due for playing time.

He showed his power and explosiveness at the scouting combine, recording a 33½-inch vertical jump, one of the top measurements for an offensive lineman.

Rhyan was an accomplished track-and-field athlete in high school, setting school records in the shot put and discus, and he also played rugby in his youth. That game gave him "a good baseline for football," he said.

"What I think rugby taught me at a young age was not to be afraid of contact really, and no matter the opponent or how big they were or how big I was, we're both on the field at the same time, and whoever plays the hardest for the longest is gonna come out on top."

It'll be interesting to see just where he lines up to start his NFL career. With Elgton Jenkins still rehabbing from ACL surgery, the Packers' projected offensive line for 2022 right now includes Runyan at left guard, Newman at right guard and Yosh Nijman moving over to right tackle.

Rhyan could compete for one of those jobs and/or back up multiple spots if he's able to get off to a strong start as a rookie.

"All these players we're bringing in, there's so much to learn in the NFL game," Gutekunst said. "But we just thought his ability to do some of the things we ask of our offensive linemen – being able to play outside, being able to play inside.

"He just kind of fit us, along with having prototypical size."

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