Yosh Nijman is now a real name within the Green Bay Packers fanbase. He filled in valiantly at LT last season without Elgton Jenkins or David Bakhtiari, helping keep the Packers season afloat when it otherwise would have been finished. But in his pro career, up until week 7 of this season, he had never played RT in an NFL game. Now he has four starts at RT under his belt, and it’s time to talk about why he is our future RT.
Nijman was an undrafted free agent coming out of Virginia Tech in 2019. The Packers signed him following the draft and ended up on the Packers practice squad for a majority of the 2019 season. At Virginia Tech Nijman started 32 games and played in 45. He started at LT for the 2016 and ‘17 seasons before moving to RT in 2018. Nijman floated around on the team in 2020 as well, playing 14 snaps at LT throughout the season, while also playing 80 special teams snaps.
Then we enter 2021. The beginning of the breakout for Yosh Nijman. His first career start, at LT nonetheless, came against the San Francisco 49rs. He ended up going against Nick Bosa and gave up zero pressures in the game. While not ending up with the greatest of grades, he did hold his own in a very crucial matchup. Nijman also started weeks four and five, playing valiantly as a pass blocker, albeit poorly as a run blocker. Nijman was in and out as a starter due to Elgton Jenkins, coming in and playing week 11 and 18. He also started weeks 12-17. By the end of his first starting season, Nijman played 589 snaps as a LT, giving up 20 pressures and ending with a 66.9 pass blocking grade from PFF. As for run blocking, Nijman ended with a 52.4 grade. Then came the Divisional Round game to the 49rs. Matt LaFleur decided to not play Nijman at LT. His replacement was Billy Turner, the team’s RT all season. Playing at RT was the seldom used Dennis Kelly. Turner played decently at LT, giving up only 2 pressures on the day. Kelly on the other hand gave up a whopping 5 pressures!!! These 5 pressures consisted of, 3 hurries, 1 QB hit, and 1 sack. Imagine if the team had just stuck with its regular season lineup. Maybe Aaron Rodgers is actually given some time to throw and read the defense. But instead, sitting Nijamn only hurt the team’s chances in the playoffs.
Now here we find ourselves in 2022. Nijman started weeks 1 and 2 at LT, while also playing snaps at LT weeks 3-6 with the return of Bakhtiari. During this time, versatile lineman Jenkins struggled mightily at RT. Week 7 came and the team decided to give Nijman the start at RT. He came out of the game giving up 1 pressure and receiving a 69.3 pass blocking grade. On the flip side he received a 62.8 run block grade. Nijman has since started at RT in the three games after Washington, playing well at RT every time. In this three week span against two of the league’s best pass rushes in Buffalo and Dallas as well as Detroit Nijman has given up a total of 5 pressures. He has graded average to above average all three weeks as a pass blocker. Now the truth about Nijman is he is actually a very poor run blocker, but he makes up for this by being a reliable pass protector.
It is time to say that Yosh Nijman is the Green Bay Packers future RT. He has played his butt off for two years now, bringing this team everything it has asked of him as a pass protector. As a UDFA and a below average run blocker his future contract should not be anywhere near top dollar, allowing a team strapped for cash to retain him, and turn its focus towards other weaknesses on the roster. One can only hope he can improve as a run blocker over time for the sake of the team, but if not, a versatile OT that can pass protect well is always valuable in a pass first league.