As we inch day by day toward training camp, we continue to look at the Packers depth chart and find out where each position stands and who can make it to opening day. And with each position the puzzle become more and more clear. We’ve covered every spot on offense except that which protects it: the offensive line.
For this series, which will finish by training camp starts, we will look at each and every player on the roster, breaking down their strengths, weaknesses, their role, and their best and worst case scenarios. I will also project their role. Let’s dive into the depths of the Packers pool of talent.
#69 DAVID BAKHTIARI
6’4” 310 lbs. Age 24 (4th Season)
Drafted in the 4th Round (109th Overall) in 2013 from Colorado
Strengths: Bakhtiari has the prototypical feet for a left tackle. Starts with a solid kick out to stop speed rushers effectively and has gotten exponentially stronger over his career to the point where he is well equipped to handle bull rushers as well. Also plays with a nasty streak that balances out the calm of Josh Sitton. Has a powerful base to anchor and not give up any ground.
Weaknesses: While he is effective at handling the rush, he isn’t perfect and can be beaten with a good counter move. He also in the past had a propensity for the big penalty to wipe out a play. Has been called for holding more than any other Packers linemen since being drafted. He also is coming off a season where he has battled injuries.
Underrated Attribute: Kick out of stance
Role: Starting Left Tackle
Best Case: Bakhtiari takes that next step and become a Pro Bowl lineman reminding fans of Chad Clifton. He then re-signs for a hometown discount.
Worst Case: Bakh either gets hurt or struggles and ends up being expendable and he leaves in free agency.
Projection: Bakhtiari will continue to be a dependable tackle who will do a fine job keeping Aaron Rodgers clean but will be overshadowed by the interior trio. He will set career lows in penalties and sacks allowed.
#71 JOSH SITTON
6’3” 318 lbs. Age 30 (9th Season)
Drafted in the 4th Round (135th Overall) in 2008 from Central Florida
Strengths: Big Sitton is one of the very best guards in the NFL and has consistently displayed the toughness and technique essential to be one. A true road grader in the run game, Sitton is immensely strong and has arguable the best base in football, rarely being moved off the ball and driving defenders backward with ease. But he is even better in pass protection with great hand placement and a great kick to counter any move a lineman has.
Weaknesses: Sitton’s only weaknesses are out of his control. He is getting older and has a lot of wear on his knees (112 career starts) and has a nagging toe injury that has really slowed him down to not being able to practice much the past two seasons.
Underrated Attribute: Stance and footwork.
Role: Starting Right Guard
Best Case: Sitton shows he has plenty left in the tank, dominating the opposition on his way to a first team All-Pro selection and signs for the rest of his career with Green Bay.
Worst Case: Sitton’s toe acts up even more and he is forced to miss a game or two, leading him to not be pursued heavily in free agency.
Projection: Sitton will continue to be the best left guard in football while playing every game and anchoring the offensive line that will rank very highly.
#63 COREY LINSLEY
6’3” 301 lbs. Age 24 (3rd Season)
Drafted in the 5th Round (161st Overall) in 2014 from Ohio State
Strengths: The book on Linsley since he was drafted was his strength, and it’s only increased since then. He is a great run blocker who can drive the pile better than most players as well as pull out on trap plays. As a pass blocker he gets into his stance very quickly after the snap and can maintain a strong base against almost any defensive tackle. He also consistently makes the correct line calls and has the complete trust of Aaron Rodgers.
Weaknesses: His only weakness really is his lateral speed and athleticism aren’t perfectly ideal and he did battle an ankle injury last year. He also had a few instances where he snapped too early or too hard, catching Aaron off guard.
Underrated Attribute: Second Level Run Blocking
Role: Starting Center
Best Case: Linsley starts 16 games and makes the Pro Bowl after controlling the line of scrimmage and not allowing a sack.
Worst Case: Linsley misses time and loses his position after a dynamo performance by JC Tretter.
Projection: Linsley’s burgeoning career continues its ascent with a season that gets him mentioned among the elite centers in the game.
#70 TJ LANG
6’4” 318 lbs. Age 28 (8th Season)
Drafted in the 4th Round (109th Overall) in 2009 from Eastern Michigan
Strengths: Lang is by far of the nastiest lineman on the team and his mean streak keeps defenders from thinking twice about taking liberties on the skill position players. As a run blocker, Lang explodes off the line, using his length and strength to drive defenders down the field. He also is one of the best pulling guards in the league, getting around the corner quickly and mowing down linebackers and defensive backs to open a hole. Pass blocking is also a strong forte for Lang, as he gets the better of defensive linemen early and can get to their pads before they can establish their ground.
Weaknesses: Lang doesn’t have many weaknesses but he can get himself into trouble with his mean streak as it can lead to some personal fouls. He also has been penalized in bunches during games.
Underrated Attribute: Second Level Run Blocking
Role: Starting Right Guard
Best Case: Lang starts all 16 games and become an All-Pro and cements himself as the leader of the line as he gets an extension for the rest of his career in Green Bay.
Worst Case: Lang ends up as a solid starter but doesn’t really establish himself as a greater player than his linemates and the teams decides to let him test is value in free agency.
Projection: Lang ends up being a great player and becomes an Pro Bowler while getting an extension to be the right guard for the rest of his career.
#75 BRYAN BULAGA
6’5” 314 lbs. Age 27 (7th Season)
Drafted in the 1st Round (23rd Overall) in 2010 from Iowa
Strengths: Bulaga is a very good athlete for a lineman and it shows in his lateral movement and burst off the line. A strong pass protector, Bulaga has a great punch out of his stance to keep defenders from getting inside his pads and uses his strong footwork to slow down any counters. He also has a strong base as a run blocker and can slide out on zone runs to seal the edge well.
Weaknesses: Bulaga has some health concerns and has missed time every year since his rookie season including a torn ACL in 2013. As a blocker Bulaga can get into trouble with the extremely active linemen who can get inside his pads and move him laterally.
Underrated Attribute: Seal blocks
Role: Starting Right Tackle
Best Case: Bulaga starts all 16 games and becomes a Pro Bowl tackle and cements himself as a cornerstone of the offensive line.
Worst Case: Bulaga misses time with injury (again), and fails to justify his big contact that he got last year.
Projection: Bulaga will be healthy all year but will be one of the first guys to come out during blowout games, and becomes a Pro Bowl alternate.
#73 JC TRETTER
6’4” 307 lbs. Age 25 (4th Season)
Drafted in the 4th Round (122nd Overall) in 2013 from Cornell
Strengths: Besides his strong versatility in which he can play anywhere on the line, Tretter is a very good athlete who excels in space. A great blocker when he gets vertical, the Cornell product is able to excel when he has room to move and can match moves step for step. In pass protection he shows good footwork and can counter moves well.
Weaknesses: As a center, Tretter can sometimes mistime his punch, allowing defender to get inside is pads and drive him backwards. As a tackle, Tretter isn’t as strong as his contemporaries and can be driven back by bullrushers. He also has an injury history, missing time in his first two seasons.
Underrated Attribute: Athleticism
Role: Top Backup at every position
Best Case: Tretter is the backup at every position and excels when given playing time, getting him a contract extension to start in 2017 or a hefty contract with another team.
Worst Case: Tretter just becomes serviceable as a blocker and doesn’t get a huge deal in free agency, coming back for a lower salary.
Projection: Tretter becomes the top backup and a key member in free agency who ends up getting a big payday.
#78 JASON SPRIGGS
6’6” 301 lbs. Age 22 (Rookie)
Drafted in the 2nd Round (48th Overall) in 2016 from Indiana
Strengths: The best athlete among the linemen in the draft, Spriggs is an explosive player who possesses great lateral movement to give pass rushers no chance to get around the bend. With that athleticism also comes the chance to hit cutoff blocks quickly and effectively. He is also a patient blocker who is willing to wait for his target to commit before engaging. Durability also was huge in his career at Indiana.
Weaknesses: Spriggs is extremely athletic but isn’t that strong which makes him susceptible to the bull rush who can be moved off his spot relatively easily. He also can be slow with his punch, especially on the move, and can get caught leaning back in his stance.
Underrated Attribute: Length
Role: Swing Tackle, Special Teams
Best Case: Spriggs becomes a swing tackle and isn’t required to play much, settling into his career as a special teams blocker and is groomed as the future at left tackle.
Worst Case: Spriggs struggles in the preseason and doesn’t see the field much besides extra points.
Projection: Jason shows the potential to be the future left tackle and gets the opportunity in 2017 after learning from Bakhtiari. But he rarely sees the field on offense due to the health of the starters.
#65 LANE TAYLOR
6’3” 324 lbs. Age 26 (4th Season)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on May 10, 2013 from Oklahoma State
Strengths: Immensely strong, the prototypical road grader as a guard. Taylor shows good leverage and can get off the ball pretty well. Has grown tremendously as a pass protector, able to hold his own in limited action last season. A good worker who has the confidence of the coaching staff.
Weaknesses: Taylor, while getting better, lacks lateral speed and athleticism to be much more than a backup guard at this level. He can be slow off the ball at times and struggles with settling into his stance. His hand placement is also erratic and he can be inconsistent with his timing of his punch, allowing nose tackles to push him backwards.
Underrated Attribute: Effort
Role: Backup Guard, Special Teams
Best Case: Taylor makes the team and makes his mark on special teams, showing strong skills on field goals and extra points.
Worst Case: Taylor doesn’t progress and falls behind young guys like Josh Walker and Matt Rotheram, getting cut at the end of camp.
Projection: Taylor’s new contract shows trust in him and he makes the team and is active for all 16 games as a backup guard.
#68 KYLE MURPHY
6’6” 305 lbs. Age 22 (Rookie)
Drafted in the 6th Round (200th Overall) in 2016 from Stanford
Strengths: A consummate worker on and off the field, Murphy excels in the run game as a technician and shows great awareness in space. Good with angles and able to move well on zone runs, and displays great patience with his punch. He plays with great leverage and can drive block well.
Weaknesses: Murphy’s feet are accurate but not very fast yet, and he can be driven off the ball early in the play due to a slow release from the snap, which he compensates by attempting to jump a fraction of a second early. He also can be lifted out of his base as a pass protector, and struggles with speed rushers.
Underrated Attribute: Intelligence
Role: Backup Guard, Right Tackle, Special Teams
Best Case: Murphy makes the team and shows strength as a potential fit that he steps into the swing tackle position in 2017.
Worst Case: Murphy struggles with an anchor and can’t beat out the other lower-tier linemen, getting cut before landing on the practice squad.
Projection: With his intelligence and strength, Murphy makes the team while showing potential for the future. He isn’t always active but is extremely valuable and wouldn’t make it to the practice squad.
#74 MATT ROTHERAM
6’5” 325 lbs. Age 24 (2nd Season)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on May 8, 2015 from Pittsburgh
Strengths: Much like Lane Taylor, Rotheram is a pure road grader with exceptional strength to push around guys bigger than him. A technician in the run game, Rotheram plays with good leverage and is able to get to the second level well. He also is a hard worker who is working playing center as well as guard.
Weaknesses: In pass protection, Rotheram needs work on his inside hand placement and footwork. He can short shuffle some of his steps and his slide is slower than expected. He also needs work on his athleticism and can has some problems with lateral movement.
Underrated Attribute: Versatility
Role: Backup Guard, Center, Special Teams
Best Case: Rotheram makes the team and becomes a potential future starter at guard. He is rarely active but when he is he makes an impact.
Worst Case: Rotheram shows strength in the run game but not much else and gets cut at the end of camp.
Projection: Rotheram will make the team due to his versatility and becomes the 10th lineman.
#79 JOSH WALKER
6’5” 328 lbs. Age 25 (2nd Season)
Strengths: Walker is a massive human being who has a lot of potential of a strong run blocking guard, much like Lane Taylor. He actually outplayed him last season and got more playing time during the course of the year (13 game). He shows good feet when driving a pile forward and has a good strong base as he sinks into his stance. His height really allows him to be an anchor in the middle of the line.
Weaknesses: Walker has some potential but really needs a lot of work as a pass protector. He came into camp as a tackle and is now strictly a guard in the NFL after he struggled against counter moves and speed rushers.
Underrated Attribute: Wide base
Role: Potential Backup Guard
Best Case: Walker’s best case is that he beats out Lane Taylor and Matt Rotheram for one of the final spots on the line and becomes a valuable depth guy that makes guys like Taylor, Rotheram, and even JC Tretter expendable.
Worst Case: Worst case is that Walker doesn’t improve on last year’s camp and gets passed by Rotheram and Taylor, becoming a victim of final cuts.
Projection: Walker is again solid in camp, but with Lane Taylor getting a contract extension and Rotheram improving as well as being more versatile, Walker gets caught in a numbers game and ends up being the final cut of camp. If the rules are still in place like two years ago when Chris Banjo got to be placed on the Practice Squad, I think Walker ends up there. But it is honestly a coin flip between him and Matt Rotheram.
#67 DON BARCLAY
6’4” 305 lbs. Age 27 (5th Season)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on May 7, 2012 from West Virginia
Strengths: Barclay has a nasty streak who plays with good pad height and drives off the line well. He shows decent hand placement and has significant experience as a starter.
Weaknesses: Barclay struggles with his footwork and functional strength leading to a lot of pressure. He gave up nine sacks last year in half the snaps he played in 2013. He also plays too high for his size sometimes and can be driven backward in the run game. He also is two years removed from a torn ACL and hasn’t really recovered any of his knee bend since then.
Underrated Attribute: Mean Streak
Role: Potential Backup Guard, Right Tackle
Best Case: Barclay shows that he is recovered from his injury and wins a spot at the bottom of the roster as a backup guard.
Worst Case: Don doesn’t show anything in camp or the preseason and gets cut early on so he can maybe find a spot on another team.
Projection: Barclay gets the benefit of the doubt due to his experience but he doesn’t show enough to beat out Murphy or Rotheram and gets cut on the final day of camp.
#72 JOSH JAMES
6’5” 314 lbs. Age 23 (Rookie)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on May 6, 2016 from Carroll College (Montana)
Strengths: James is a long, experienced tackle who was an All-American at Carroll. A decent pass blocker with a wide base who gets off the ball fairly well, James shows the earmarks of being a good developmental tackle at the NFL level. James is a good athlete, putting up 26 reps on the bench and jumping 30 inches on his vertical.
Weaknesses: Playing at a small school, especially on the offensive line, can really hurt a prospect, and James is no exception. His size and stature made him stand out but also glossed over his struggles, namely hand placement.
Underrated Attribute: Experience
Role: Camp Body, Backup Tackle
Best Case: James ceiling at this stage is probably as a practice squad hopeful. His size warrants a long look but with so many tackles on the roster it is a very long shot for him.
Worst Case: James floor is low. A small-school risk, he could really struggle and be one of the first cuts.
Projection: With his pure size and length I think he makes it to final cuts but is a casualty early on that day.
#62 LUCAS PATRICK
6’3” 313 lbs. Age 22 (Rookie)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on June 1, 2016 from Duke
Strengths: After starting 21 straight games at left guard for Duke, Patrick is a decently-rounded player. Solid in both run blocking and pass blocking, Patrick is a dependable piece for a team looking for a developmental guard for the future.
Weaknesses: Patrick is not particularly athletic for the NFL and did not run well at his Pro Day. He is more of an interior, downhill blocker, not a great fit for the zone scheme the Packers love.
Underrated Attribute: Durability
Role: Camp Body, Backup Guard
Best Case: Patrick is more than likely a camp body with a shot at the practice squad.
Worst Case: He doesn’t shine in any of the drills and is a casualty in the first round of cuts.
Projection: Stuck in a numbers game with guys like Sitton, Lang, Taylor, Walker, Rotheram, Tretter, and Murphy all vying for a guard spot, Patrick is unfortunately released during the first roster cutdown.
#57 JACOB FLORES
6’3” 300 lbs. Age 22 (Rookie)
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent on May 6, 2016 from Dartmouth
Strengths: Flores is a very versatile player, starting two seasons at Left Tackle before transitioning to center his senior year. A first team All-Conference selection, Flores shows great intellect in pass protection, using it to cut down angles and to lead defenders into a scrum, removing them from the play.
Weaknesses: While he is a good athlete playing tackle and center, he is undersized right now and needs some work in the weight room.
Underrated Attribute: Versatility
Role: Camp Body, Backup Center
Best Case: Flores, much like Lucas Patrick, is in a major uphill battle. He could stick as a practice squad center.
Worst Case: In a numbers game with Linsley, Tretter, and Rotheram all taking snaps at center, Flores just doesn’t stick out and gets cut early in camp.
Projection: Stuck in crowded position, Flores doesn’t have the size for center or the athleticism for tackle yet and is cut early in camp.
Summarizing my projections
First Cuts: Flores, Patrick
Final Cuts: James, Barclay, Walker (PS)
Making the Team: Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang, Bulaga, Tretter, Spriggs, Taylor, Murphy, Rotheram
After looking at the offense, we now have 25 players on the active roster with one on PUP. We have two quarterbacks, three running backs, one fullback, six receivers (one PUP), three tight ends, and ten offensive linemen. Now we can move onto the defense. If we factor in three specialists, that leaves 25 open spots on the other side of the ball. So keep track as we move across the line of scrimmage to the defensive line on Saturday.
On a final, more important note, tomorrow (July 7) is Jerry Kramer For Hall of Fame Day across numerous Packers related websites. Keep in touch to PackersTalk, CheeseheadTV and many others as we try to spread the word about Kramer and his Hall of Fame candidacy. We all know that he’s been deserving for a while and now we are doing something about it. Keep active in social media with the hashtag #Kramer4HOF and send letters (respectfully) to the Hall of Fame and voters.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.