The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects the Green Bay Packers could select in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The NFL Scouting Combine is this week with on-field drills set to begin Thursday with the defensive line and linebackers. The offensive line should work on Sunday, and the player who could make some money is BYU, Blake Freeland.
The BYU offensive tackle was a three-sport athlete at Herriman High School and holds the Utah javelin record. During his prep sports career, Freeland was named to the All-State Track and Field team six times. Freeland’s parents both played sports at BYU, and one of his four sisters competed on the track and field team for the Cougars.
“Maybe Freeland’s biggest strength is his athleticism for such a big guy,” said Jay Drew, a reporter for the Deseret News. “He moves his feet incredibly well, has decent strength and is outstanding in pass protection. Freeland was a linebacker and tight end in high school before coming to BYU at Herriman High in the Salt Lake Valley. He was also a good basketball player, playing on several conference and state teams. His BYU teammates say he might be the best basketball player on the team. That shows pretty good athleticism.”
As a true freshman in 2019, Freeland started seven games at right tackle and started eight games at right tackle during the 2020 season. Over the past two seasons, Freeland has started 26 games at left tackle.
“Freeland had an outstanding career at BYU,” Drew said. “One of the best careers for an offensive lineman in school history. His time at BYU is on par with some of the all-time greats such as Brady Christensen, Bart Oates, Trevor Matich, John Tait and Mo Elewonibi. Blake became a starter in his freshman year in 2019, appearing in seven games at right tackle and quickly making the position his own. In 2021, he switched to left fielder and quickly excelled in that position as well.”
At 6-7 with long arms, Freeland has great length and is one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the draft. Freeland is quick out of stance and has quick feet to hold the corner. The BYU offensive tackle has quick hands and uses his long arms to stop tacklers. According to Pro Football Focus, Freeland has given up just one sack and 12 pressures over the past two seasons at left tackle.
There are questions about Freeland’s functional strength. It’s worth noting that Freeland came to BYU at 160 pounds and worked hard to add muscle and weight to his body. At the Senior Bowl, he weighed 312 pounds.
“Freeland is big, strong and very athletically built,” Drew said. “He has that innate ability to quickly recognize what defensive ends are trying to do and get in the right position to stop them from getting to the quarterback.”
Freeland’s athleticism comes into full display when he is asked to get into space as a run blocker. He has no restrictions on retreating or climbing to another level. Although he wasn’t a mortar, Freeland earned his best run-blocking grade PFF last season (87.9).
“Freeland probably isn’t as adept at blocking the run as he is at blocking the pass, but he’s still more than adequate there,” Drew said. “He’s got decent quickness for a 6-8 guy and they’d use him as a guard at times because of his ability to get out and move.”
Fits with the Packers
All signs point to David Bakhtiari returning with Green Bay Packers next season. Zach Tom has proven to be a viable option at right or left tackle, with the versatility to play anywhere along the offensive line. Yosh Nijman will most likely return. The Packers also have Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones on the roster. On top of that, Elgton Jenkins is always capable of fighting back outside when in trouble.
The Packers seem poised to make a run in the upcoming season. How about a year from now? Will Bakhtiari and Njiman be on the roster after next season?
What is Tom’s best position? With a cloud hanging over the future of the tackle position, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Packers make a move during the 2023 NFL Draft.
With his size, athleticism and experience playing both left and right tackle, Freeland could be a target for Gutekunst for a day or two.
“He’s going to have a long, productive NFL career,” Drew said. “He has the qualities listed above but is also a very good person with high character and work ethic. He will give the organization everything he has. He has tunnel vision and is not easily distracted by anything other than climbing the ladder to professional football. His dad is a former BYU football player and was just named head coach at Herriman High. Football is in the blood of that family. They know what it takes to play at the next level and they are willing to do it.”
Freeland has traits that cannot be trained. With Green Bay’s success in drafting and developing offensive players, Freeland could turn into a pillar of offense at left or right tackle.