The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 NFL draft.
The NFL Scouting Combine is this week with on-field drills scheduled to start on Thursday with the defensive line and linebackers. The offensive line is scheduled to work out on Sunday and a player that could make some money is BYU’s, Blake Freeland.
The BYU offensive tackle was a three-sport athlete at Herriman High School and owns the Utah record in the javelin. 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.
“Perhaps Freeland’s biggest strength is his athleticism for such a big guy,” Jay Drew, a reporter for the Deseret News said. “He moves his feet incredibly well, has decent strength, and is outstanding in pass protection. Freeland was a high school quarterback and tight end before coming to BYU at Herriman High in the Salt Lake Valley. He was also a good basketball player, making several all-conference and all-state teams. His BYU teammates say he might be the best basketball player on the team. That shows some 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 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 ranks right up there 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, appeared in seven games at right tackle, and quickly made the position his own. In 2021 he moved over to left tackle and quickly excelled at that position as well.”
At 6-7 with long arms, Freeland has great length and is one of the most experienced offensive tackles in the draft. Freeland is quick out of stance and has the quick feet to hold the corner. The BYU offensive tackle has quick hands and uses his long arms to stonewall rushers. According to Pro Football Focus, Freeland gave 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 frame. He weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 312 pounds.
“Freeland is big, strong, and very athletic,” Drew said. “He has this innate ability to recognize quickly what defensive ends are trying to do and gets in the right position to stop them from getting to the quarterback.”
Freeland’s athleticism is on full display when he’s asked to get out into space as a run blocker. He has no restrictions on pulling or climbing to the second level. While not a mauler, Freeland earned his best run-blocking grade from PFF this past season (87.9).
“Freeland probably isn’t as adept at run blocking as he is at pass blocking, but he is still more than adequate there,” Drew said. “He’s got decent speed for a 6-8 guy and occasionally would be used like a pulling guard because of his ability to get out and move.”
Fit with the Packers
All signs point to David Bakhtiari being back with the 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 be back. The Packers also have Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones on the roster. On top of that, Elgton Jenkins is always capable of kicking back outside in a pinch.
It would appear the Packers are set at the tackle position for the upcoming season. What about a year from now? Will Bakhtiari and Njiman be on the roster after next season?
What’s Tom’s best position? With a cloud hanging over the future of the tackle position, it would not be shocking to see the Packers take an offensive tackle during the 2023 NFL Draft.
With his size, athleticism, and experience playing both left and right tackle, Freeland could be a day-two target for Gutekunst.
“He is going to have a long, productive NFL career,” Drew said. “He’s got the aforementioned traits, but he is also a very good person with high character and work ethic. He’s going to give an organization everything he’s got. He’s got tunnel vision and isn’t 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 that family’s blood. They know what it takes to play at the next level and are willing to do it.”
Freeland has traits that cannot be coached. With Green Bay’s success in drafting and developing offensive linemen, Freeland could turn into a pillar on the offensive line at either left or right tackle.