This week it’s time to look at the Packers’s offensive line. The Packers have 15 offensive linemen on their 90 man roster and when they get down to 53 in late August, they will likely keep 8 or 9.
Barring injury, 4 out of the 5 starting spots along the offensive line seem to be determined, with the only question being at center. With so many offensive linemen on the roster, and a very limited amount of roster spots, the competition along the offensive line should be one of the most interesting to watch during training camp.
The 15 offensive linemen will fall into one of the categories below.
Impact Players – A potential Pro Bowler who opposing teams need to game plan for.
Solid Starters – An average to slightly above average starter.
Quality Backup/Role Players – A player who can start if needed and may also contribute on special teams. These players may also have some upside and untapped potential.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot – A player who may be fighting to make the final 53 man roster.
Here is how I currently rank the Packers’ offensive linemen.
- Josh Sitton – Sitton has been the Packers’ best offensive lineman for the past few years, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 and second team All-Pro honors in 2013. Sitton also had the highest Profootballfocus grade of any Packer last season with a grade of +33.1.
- TJ Lang – Lang may not receive the accolades Sitton does, but he has been a steady presence along the Packers’ offensive line since being drafted in 2009. He played very well in 2013, his first full season at right guard, earning a 10.8 PFF grade. Not only has Lang shown steady improvement at guard during his career, he is also one of the Packers’ most versatile offensive linemen, and has played all 5 spots along the offensive line.
- David Bakhtiari–There wasn’t a lot expected out of the 2012 fourth round pick, but after projected left tackle Bryan Bulaga went down with an injury in the preseason, Bakhtiari stepped up and started all 16 games at left tackle last season. He had a decent PFF grade of +2.2 against the pass, but he struggled in the run game, receiving a -16.9 grade. However, Bakhtiari showed enough promise last season that the Packers plan on keeping him at left tackle for the foreseeable future.
- Bryan Bulaga – When the Packers selected Bulaga in the 1st round of the 2010 draft it looked like he would be the heir apparent to Chad Clifton at left tackle. And after spending his first 3 seasons at right tackle, it finally looked like the Packers would move Bulaga to the left side for the 2013 season, but an ACL injury forced the Packers to place him on injured reserve before the season had even started. Bulaga could become a dominant right tackle if he can stay healthy, unfortunately, he has struggled to do so the past 2 seasons.
Quality Backup/Role Players
- JC Tretter –After starting 3 different players at center the past 3 years, the Packers are looking for a long term answer at the position, and it looks like Tretter will get the first shot at the job. The Cornell graduate has the size and smarts for the position, but what he doesn’t have yet is the experience. Tretter has yet to start a game in the NFL and has almost no experience at center.
- Don Barclay – Undrafted out of West Virginia, Barclay has been an important role player for the Packers, starting 18 games over the past 2 seasons. Barclay struggled when asked to play center, and if the offensive line stays healthy he will probably not be a starter this season, but his ability to play right tackle and both guard spots should assure him a roster spot again this season.
- Corey Linsley – The first true center the Packer have drafted in years, Linsley will compete with JC Tretter for the starting center spot. Linsley is considerably smaller than Tretter and he doesn’t yet have the knowledge of the Packer playbook that Tretter has, but he is very strong, and has the experience at center that Tretter lacks.
- Derek Sherrod – After suffering a broken leg that ended his rookie season, robbed him of the entire 2012 season, and much of the 2013 season, a healthy Sherrod seems to be penciled in as the backup left tackle. The Packers declined the 5th year option on the former 1st round pick’s contract, so this very well may be his last season with the Packers.
Not Guaranteed a Roster Spot
9. Lane Taylor – The undrafted guard out of Oklahoma State was active for 10 games last season, but only saw 14 snaps. Unless the Packers decide to keep 9 offensive linemen, which is a possibility, Taylor could be looking for a new team when final cut downs are announced.
10. Aaron Adams – The Packers signed the undrafted rookie out of Eastern Kentucky to the practice squad after he was cut by the Browns during final cuts last year. He spent all of last season on the practice squad and could be a candidate to end up there again this season.
11. John Fullington – The undrafted rookie out of Washington State started 43 games for Cougars at both guard and tackle. Fullington is a long shot to make the Packers’ roster, but he could be another practice squad candidate.
12. Jordan McCray – McCray started at both right and left guard for UCF the past 2 seasons, and garnered All-American Athletic Conference First Team honors his senior season. The undrafted rookie could find a home on the Packers’ practice squad
13. Andrew Tiller – Tiller was a 6th round draft choice by the Saints in 2012 and spent all of his rookie season on the injured reserve. After his release by the Saints, the guard out of Syracuse spent time on the Charges practice squad before being picked up by the Packers in November.
14. Jeremy Vujnovich – The tackle out of Louisiana College had a tryout with the Packers last season but wasn’t signed until January of this season. Most likely a training camp body.
15. Garth Gerhart – After a couple stints on the Packers’ practice squad, the selection of Corey Linsley likely means the end of Gerhart’s tenure as a Packer. Unless he shows a marked improvement, expect Gerhart to be one of the earlier cuts during training camp.——————