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Packers take Arizona tackle Jordan Morgan with 25th pick in NFL draft

Packers take Arizona tackle Jordan Morgan with 25th pick in NFL draft


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — As he developed into an offensive lineman capable of getting drafted in the first round, Jordan Morgan says he spent plenty of time watching former Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari.

Now the former Arizona tackle may get a chance to fill Bakhtiari’s old spot on Green Bay’s offensive line.

The Packers departed from their usual strategy of targeting defensive players in the first round by selecting Morgan with the 25th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night. Morgan says he’d like to emulate the skills that helped make Bakhtiari an All-Pro.

“The way he moves, he’s very balanced and he has a good strike — he has a really good strike in the pass game, really strong arms, really strong upper body and he can really lock people up, which is where I get my game from,” Morgan said. “I like to lock people up and stalemate.”

Although Morgan played left tackle exclusively at Arizona, there’s no guarantee he will end up playing that position in the NFL. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said Morgan has the ability to play either tackle or guard.

“I think he can play all four spots (left tackle, left guard, right tackle and right guard),” Gutekunst said. “We’re fortunate enough that we’ve got a lot of guys in our group right now that can do that, and so I think we’ll kind of let the best five battle it out and see where that ends up.”

This was only the second time in the past 13 drafts that the Packers have selected an offensive player with their first pick. The other instance came in 2020, when they traded up four spots to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall.

Morgan is the first offensive lineman the Packers have selected in the first round since they took Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod with the 32nd overall pick in 2011.

“Where we had him valued, this was a pretty easy decision for us,” Gutekunst said.

Green Bay needed to boost its offensive line after losing much of its depth there over the past month. The Packers released Bakhtiari, who had played just 13 games over the past three seasons because of chronic knee problems, and lost starting guard Jon Runyan Jr. and reserve tackle Yosh Nijman in free agency.

Last year, Green Bay didn’t draft any offensive linemen for the first time since 2015. The Packers had a pair of first-year starters at offensive tackle last year with Rasheed Walker on the left side and Zach Tom on the right side.

Morgan had planned to enter the 2023 draft, but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament late in the 2022 season. He returned to school and came back strongly enough to earn first-team all-Pac 12 honors as Arizona’s starting left tackle last year. Morgan allowed only two sacks in 787 snaps over 12 games.

“I just had to pretty much put my head down and work,” said Morgan, who is 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds. “I attacked it pretty hard in the weight room. In the training room I did three times a day, just trying to beat the timeline of an ACL injury, when they told me that it was going to take so long. And I just didn’t want to wait too long.”

One concern about Morgan’s potential at tackle is his arm length of 32 7/8 inches is shorter than usual for that position.

“Certainly the longer the better, but we’ve had a bunch of guys that have played outside there with not I guess prototypical arm length,” Gutekunst said. “I think what makes up for it usually is their feet and athleticism. And that’s what Jordan has.”

Green Bay selected Morgan at No. 25 even though the Packers had clear needs in the secondary as well and had plenty of options on defense after each of the draft’s first 14 picks were offensive players.

The Packers still have plenty more opportunities to upgrade their secondary as they try to take the next step after going 10-9 and reaching the NFC divisional playoffs last season.

Green Bay has 11 overall draft picks, including five of the first 91 picks. They have an extra second-round pick from the 2023 trade of four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets and an additional third-round selection after sending cornerback Rasul Douglas to the Buffalo Bills at last year’s trade deadline.

Their picks Friday include the 41st, 58th, 88th and 91st overall selections.

TOP PHOTO: FILE – Green Bay Packers helmets lay on the ground during a practice session at their NFL minicamp Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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