Unpacking Future Packers: No. 98 Luke Wattenberg
The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Green Bay Packers have one of the best offensive lines in football. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 27 times, despite playing behind a makeshift starting five for the majority of the season.
The Packers only got a half of football in a meaningless game from David Bakhtiari in the week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions.
The versatile Elgton Jenkins played in eight games before suffering a season-ending injury.
Josh Myers started the first four games of the season at center, before suffering a knee injury that forced him to miss 12 games before he returned last week. Billy Turner, the starting right tackle, has missed the last four games with a knee injury.
The Packers have suffered loss after loss along the offensive line and they keep chugging along as one of the best units in football.
Brian Gutekunst and Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich have played an integral part in Green Bay being able to withstand those key injuries.
Since taking over as general manager, Gutekunst has drafted seven offensive linemen and signed players like Turner and Dennis Kelly.
That continued investment in the offensive line via the NFL draft is likely to continue in the 2022 NFL draft. A name to remember is Luke Wattenberg. The University of Washington offensive lineman checks in at No. 98 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
It’s going to be hard to find a much more seasoned offensive lineman than Wattenberg. The California native started 48 games for the Huskies.
“Luke was the model of consistency at UW,” Roman Tomashoff, a contributor for RealDawg.com said. “He always did whatever the coaches asked and was always a steady face along the offensive line.”
Wattenberg might be the most experienced offensive lineman in the 2022 draft. He may also be the most versatile lineman in the upcoming draft.
Wattenberg has five starts at left tackle, 27 starts at left guard, and 16 starts at center. That versatility makes him an attractive Day 3 target for any NFL team that’s looking to improve its depth upfront.
“Wattenberg is a coach’s best friend,” Tomashoff said. “He’s athletic enough to play every position along the line and is intelligent enough that it’s a seamless transition to every position. I believe he’s best suited at center at the NFL level. He’s not going to be mobile enough or strong enough to succeed as a guard or a tackle, but his intelligence and experience will help him fit in nicely as a center.”
Opposing defensive linemen probably feel like they are running against a brick wall when they come into the vicinity of Wattenberg. The seasoned lineman has only given up five career sacks over 48 career starts.
Wattenberg has the reactionary quickness to respond to various pressures. He’s got a high IQ with excellent field vision. He sees things before they happen.
The versatile offensive lineman stays balanced in his pass sets. He has a strong anchor and is able to withstand bull rushers.
“I keep coming back to the same point, but it’s truly his intelligence and ability to always be in the right position on the field,” Tomashoff said. “He never panics on stunts and complex blitzes, he never gives up on a play and is rarely out of position or caught off guard.”
While he’s not a snowplow as a run blocker, Wattenberg is gritty. The 6-5, 300-pound lineman doesn’t have the highlight reel worth package as a run-blocker, but he has the quickness to climb to the second level and hit his targets.
“While I wouldn’t call many plays with him as the lead blocker, he’s athletic enough to succeed as a pulling blocker, and can seal gaps on the inside very well,” Tomashoff said. “If he adds strength at the NFL level, he has a chance to be an above-average run blocker.”
Fit with the Packers
What does the future hold for Green Bay’s offensive line unit? There are a lot of questions that will need to be answered this offseason.
Bakhtiari, Jenkins, and Myers are the cornerstone pieces, but when will Jenkins be back from his knee injury and what position will he be playing?
Will Billy Turner be a cap casualty this offseason? Is Royce Newman part of the long-term plans at right guard?
All those question marks lead one to believe that Gutekunst is likely going to draft at least one offensive lineman on day three of the draft.
With his experience and versatility, Wattenberg would be a great day-three selection for the Packers. The Washington lineman could serve as the backup center, backup guard, and backup right tackle.
“His versatility, experience, and intelligence would be selling points for me,” Tomashoff said. “The possibility of getting a potential starter and great depth player late on day three would be all I need to hear to pull the trigger on Wattenberg.”