When the Green Bay Packers selected Cole Madison with their 5th round pick in 2018, he was seen by some (I said some, not all) as a plug and play at right guard. Madison was a relentless bully that was much needed on the offensive line after the departures of Josh Sitton and TJ Lang (congrats on retirement to the both of them). Although Madison posted an RAS score of just 4.53, his tape showed that he had athletic traits that would translate well to the NFL. MathBomb, the creator of RAS, had him as an OT, so I ran his numbers at OG and his score shot up to 6.45. He still well outside the elite range that Brian Gutekunst seems to prefer, but not bad by any means.
Although not much has been reported on it, most people can connect the dots on why Madison stepped away from football. When Madison’s close friend and teammate, Tyler Hilinski, took his life in January of 2018, it hit Madison hard. A report in late June surfaced that Hilinski suffered from Stage 1 CTE, likely from playing football. Madison, like any human would, felt that it was in his best interest to take a season off to find out if he really thought playing football was worth the risk of suffering an injury like Hilinski went through.
As Matt LaFleur and the new look Packers began their offseason workouts, Madison was a surprise attendee. After a year where the guard play was below average to poor, how does Cole Madison’s return factor into the upcoming draft? Well, here is a look at the current guards on the roster:
- Lane Taylor
- Billy Turner
- Justin McCray
- Lucas Patrick
- Nico Siragusa
- Anthony Coyle
- Alex Light
- Adam Pankey
Lane Taylor had a great 2017 season and followed it up with a poor 2018. Despite Taylor’s struggles, I still expect the LG position to be his to lose. Many believe that after the massive contract shelled out to Billy Turner, he would automatically become the starting RG. Gutekunst and LaFleur have made it clear that that is not the case and that Turner will have to compete for the job. Justin McCray also had a solid 2017 season, and after getting healthy this offseason, he could easily be the starting RG come September. Alex Light and Nico Siragusa are two prospect offensive lineman that many believe can surprise us and become solid players.
With the amount of depth the Packers have at OG, they may be able to wait to draft an offensive lineman until the 4th or 5th round, if not later. With Cole Madison back, they have the flexibility to really play around with their many picks. No one knows what kind of shape Madison is in, but Gutekunst will know by draft time if he thinks Madison can still be an impact player in the NFL after taking a year off.
No one is rooting for Cole Madison more than me and all Packers fans should feel the same way. He went through a difficult time and did what was best for him. Hopefully he can play a long, healthy career in the NFL and make his return worth it for himself.