In last Saturday’s opening preseason game, the Packer’s first team offensive line, with the exception of JC Tretter, played just one series before being given a rest. And that’s not surprising considering Aaron Rodgers did not take a single snap.
But with Aaron Rodgers set to start this week, the first team offensive line should see significantly more playing time, and they may not face a more difficult task all season than blocking the front four of the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams defensive front boasts four former first round draft picks.
Left defensive end Chris Long, son of Hall of famer Howie Long, was the second overall draft pick in 2008. The former University of Virginia standout has 50.5 career sacks, including 8.5 last year.
Right defensive end Robert Quinn, was a first round pick in 2011, 14th overall, and was named the defensive player of the year in 2013, as well as first team All-Pro. His 19 sacks were second in the NFL in 2013.
Like Quinn, massive defensive tackle Michael Brockers was also selected with the 14th overall pick, but in the 2012 draft. In his two year career Brockers has 9.5 sacks and 77 tackles.
The three defensive linemen, along with Kendall Langford, who started all 16 games for the Rams last season, combined for 38 of the Rams 53 sacks in 2013.
This year the Rams added defensive tackle Aaron Donald. In four seasons at Pittsburgh, Donald had 29 sacks, 66 tackles for a loss, and forced 6 fumbles. He was also named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. And so far, early reports on Donald’s NFL performance have been overwhelmingly positive.
While the Rams have built their defensive line with first round picks, the Packers offensive line by contrast is made up almost entirely of mid-round picks. With the exception of Bryan Bulaga, who was a first round pick in 2010, all of the Packers starting offensive linemen were fourth round picks. Josh Sitton was selected in 2008, TJ Lang in 2009, and both David Bakhtiari and JC Tretter were selected in 2013.
Despite the discrepancy in draft status between the Packers offensive line and the Rams defensive line, both units contain one of the NFL’s best tandems at their positions. The Rams defensive ends, Quinn and Long, and the Packers guard duo of Sitton and Lang, are both considered to be among the top duos at their respective positions.
It’s only preseason so the intensity level won’t be quite the same as a regular season game, but Saturday’s matchup should be a good measuring stick for the Packer’s offensive line.