13

April

Packers 2012 Offensive Line Scenarios

Packers offensive tackle Derek Sherrod

2012 is a big season for Packers T Derek Sherrod

Injuries to Chad Clifton, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga meant that the Packers offensive line never really gelled last season. Guys like Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith did a decent enough job filling in, but the line never got rolling like I thought it would.

This might be a little tricky to attempt before the draft, but let’s take a look at several offensive line scenarios for the 2012 season. If/when injuries hit, what are the Packers options and potential lineups up front?

Scenario 1
LT Chad Clifton, LG T.J. Lang, C Jeff Saturday, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga.

This is the ideal scenario. In a perfect world, Clifton comes back, he’s healthy and productive, and the Packers trot out the same five guys every week. We can dream, right?

Scenario 2
LT Derek Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

Maybe Clifton gets cut or goes down early in the season and the Packers have to once again fill a hole at left tackle. If that happens, the ideal situation is for Sherrod to come back from his broken leg and step right in, showing improvement from his rookie season and becoming the left tackle of the future. Bulaga would stay at right tackle and the future would bright. If only it was that easy…

Scenario 3
LT Bulaga, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Newhouse

Clifton is cut or hurt and Sherrod isn’t ready to start. That makes Bulaga the major chess piece in this scenario. Do you move him from the right side over to Aaron Rodgers’ blind side on the left? I would. Newhouse was adequate on the left side in 2011, but I’m confident that Bulaga would have no trouble adjusting and would be much better than adequate. On a team with Super Bowl aspirations, adequate just isn’t good enough.

Scenario 4
LT Newhouse/Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

If Clifton makes the team, but gets hurt during the season, I’d be fine with keeping Bulaga on the right side. There’s no need to start playing musical chairs during the season unless absolutely necessary. But what if it is absolutely necessary?

Scenario 5
LT Lang LG Evan Dietrich-Smith/Ray Dominguez/??? C Saturday RG Sitton RT Bulaga

So if Clifton gets hurt or cut and Sherrod/Newhouse get hurt or flop at left tackle, Lang becomes the major chess piece. If it’s midseason and Mike McCarthy would rather keep Bulaga on the right, Lang would probably slide to left tackle. Who takes Lang’s spot is the question mark. Maybe it’s Dietrich-Smith, maybe Dominguez, or maybe a draftee.

Scenario 6
LT Clifton/Sherrod/Newhouse, LG Lang, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

The Packers signed Saturday to replace Scott Wells, but Saturday is old. He’s been durable, but you never know when an old guy’s body will tell him enough is enough. With so many needs on defense, will Ted  Thompson draft a center high enough that has the talent to step in immediately if Saturday gets hurt? Depends on his draft board, but I’m guessing no. A more likely scenario is he drafts a center in the later rounds that can be developed over the next two or three years, but might not be ready to play right away. Side note: Any chance for C Genus Sampson to make the team?

Scenario 7
LT Clifton/Sherrod/Newhouse LG Dietrich-Smith/Ray Dominguez/??? C Saturday RG Dietrich-Smith/Dominguez/??? RT Bulaga

If either Lang or Sitton goes down, things get complicated. Right now, Dietrich-Smith is probably next on the depth chart at both guard positions. I suppose Ray Dominguez is in the mix too, and any interior lineman that the Packers draft or sign after the draft. Guard depth is kind of an under-the-radar need for the Packers. I suppose Newhouse might also be considered for a backup guard slot.

Conclusion

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is.

This is an important season for Sherrod. If he comes back healthy and improves during training camp, it’s huge for the Packers. Getting a book-end tackle in consecutive drafts would be a major haul for Thompson.

The problem is we’re not going to know much about Sherrod until a couple weeks into training camp at the earliest. He had a serious leg injury, and didn’t exactly light it up before getting hurt. It’s going to take some time to gauge where he’s at.

Meantime, we’ll see how the Packers draft goes and revisit these scenarios at a later date.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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27 Responses to “Packers 2012 Offensive Line Scenarios”

  1. Ron LC says:

    I’m on board with the multiple LT scenarios. Even if Clifton stays, he will not play more than 8 games. My shot at the starting line is LT Newhouse, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton and RT Bulaga. This, of course, has to assume Newhouse makes adequate progress on handling speed rushers. If not, they need to keep Clifton and hope that Sherrod is back at full strength then use the pre-season to develop him to fill in when Clifton goes down. And, he will go down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Lou says:

    I like Ron’s lineup. You hate to move Bulaga, he is a future Pro-Bowler at RT an improvement already over the solid Taucher. Lang really came on last year and you would hate to move him too. Newhouse can continue to improve, they are right about him having the feet for the LT job and only top flight speed rushers handled him (JPP – Giants). They can help him in those cases. You hope Sitton plays at the 2010 level and Saturday has at least a solid year left. I am not a Knoz fan based on his bench press total, drafting Zeitler at 2 or 3 and moving him to center is a better option, he is a tough mauler.

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  3. Pete Kliman says:

    I’m feeling positive about the line because we have some experienced backups. I’m even on board with keeping Clifton. However, I would monitor his play and health during preseason and if it faulters either cut him or rework his contract and keep him as a backup. I would draft a center because this year’s draft seems to have many good ones, hint Brewster could be had with one of our 4th round picks.

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  4. john driscoll austin texas says:

    a team within the team, the offensive line…5 guys…i like Bulaga and Sitton on the right side…just my opinion…the younger guys last year missed all the springtime OTA’s…cant hurt, where is the durn schedule??

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  5. cow42 says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  6. Yoop says:

    I don’t move Bulaga he is still developing there.
    Newhouse is getting his FIRST off season program, his development on his own last year was a huge step up. I expect the same this season.

    Sitton, Lang and Saturday can all be backed up by DSmith. Or a player to be named later out of this draft. And don’t forget Genus Sampson. He showed well at both guard and center last training camp. But I see he is only listed at Center now.

    Sherrod from everything I have read is on schedule and may even work in some of the later OTA’s. Does it hurt his development, yes it does as far as starting.
    But he can fill in nicely as the swing tackle to start the season.

    One player you did not mention is Chris Campbell the Packers were high on him the start training camp but was injured and brought back later in the year.
    IMO he can play both tackle spots and both Guard spots, and bring some size and athletic ability to them.
    This off season will be a very good thing for him.

    Clifton right now I give about a 10% chance of being in the uniform for the Packers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      Why is this Newhouse’s first offseason program?

      He wasn’t a rookie last season, he was drafted in 2010.

      Was he injured or something during his rookie year?

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  7. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor 12 says:

    According to your senarios Bulaga is the only guy that CAN’T get hurt as he is in on every senario.However,I think the guy we will miss most if injured for a significant amount of time is Lang.
    Bulaga can go R/LT
    Newhouse can go R/LT/G with limitations
    Clifton is LT and very limited
    Sherrod is R/LT and very limited
    Sitton is G
    Saturday is C
    Ed-S is C/G limited
    Dominguez is G with major ?s
    Genus is a C/ with major?s
    Lang is R/LT,R/LG is the Ace in a hole.

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    • Adam Czech says:

      Yeah, I guess Bulaga is the bionic man in my scenarios.

      Pencil in Sherrod/Newhouse at RT if Bulaga gets hurt.

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  8. ThomasMagnumPI ThomasMagnumPI says:

    I have to think that at least one, and possibly two draft picks will be added to the line this year, once again. Also, GB signed an athletic, undersized guy late last year (off the street) and maybe he can contribute as a versitile backup.

    Hopefully Sherrod can come back from injury and be an effective starter–GB sorely needs a LT, as I expect Clifton to be released and, at the very least, Newhouse needs to be pushed for the starting LT job, assuming Bulaga stays put on the right side.

    It will be interesting to see where GB takes the OC of the future in this year’s draft (or is he already on the roster???).

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  9. PackersRS says:

    To me, if healthy, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga. Don’t want to see any merry-go-round with what’s stabilished and working. With the ammount of snaps Rodgers takes from the shotgun, it’s borderline irrelevant the difference between the LT and the RT, certainly not enough to shift a guy that’s turning out to be one of the best in the league at his position to a new position just because of it.

    If it’s Clifton, Sherrod or Newhouse the LT, let the best/healthy man win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Good point on Rodgers and the shotgun. He’s able to negate some mistakes up front because he’s so damn good, especially when he’s not holding the ball longer than he should.

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  10. Nasanehiga says:

    Great points on the linemen. I’m not too concerned with moving Bulaga to LT since he did play that position most of his college career. If you’ve noticed, TT and The Pack usually draft more versatile linemen for scenerios just like these. Bulaga is Pro-Bowl material and usually these types of players can transition to the opposite side with no real problems. Yes the footwork and hand placement is a little different, but not to the extreme of learning a whole new set of skills. He does already posses some sort of these skills. And all the guys get a whole offseason to actually work on what they need to improve or condition themselves to that versatility. I’ve got to say, it has been working for us. Even though we never got a jelled line going, we still managed to be 15-1 for the season. That says a lot in itself. We also don’t get to see what the coaches see in practices, but if they decide that they can add a guy to the roster or shuffle it around based on what they see, I’m all for it. Most of the time it does pan out – most of the time. In my mind it would be beneficial to at least look at all the scenerios that they can make on the O-line. There may be some element we never even fathomed with these “what-ifs.” I’ve been a JersayAl reader for years but never really thought to post a comment since most of your comments and insights are spot on anyways. Keep up the great work!

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    • PackersRS says:

      Going by this you should post more often.

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    • Oppy says:

      Side note, almost all of the linemen the Green Bay Packers have selected in the draft under Ted Thompson are guys who played Left Tackle in college.

      We’ve got a fully stocked cupboard of guys who know how to play LT, but just aren’t necessarily built to do the job at the next level.

      It’s an indicator of MM’s offensive philosophy, and why we may never really see a Packers running game that takes a prominent role under him.

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  11. Oppy says:

    I do not understand why Marshall Newhouse is basically being treated like the worst option, but Sherrod is being treated like the best option should Clifton not be available.

    Newhouse played practically all year. Sherrod took enough snaps to perhaps count on my hands and toes.

    I think you may be putting too much stock into draft position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • CSS says:

      Not to mention the fact that Newhouse took a pretty substantial leap from year one to year two. He’s a good technician that learns from his mistakes. Physically, technically and mentally there’s no reason to believe he’s hit his ceiling.

      You expect substantial growth from Bulaga based on his draft position (which is what we saw). You expect a longer curve with Newhouse, which is what I expect to see more of in year 3.

      Can’t discount him.

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      • Adam Czech says:

        Couple things, Oppy.

        1. I’m not advocating for any of these scenarios, just throwing them out there for discussion.
        2. Newhouse proved to be a capable backup last season. But based on what I saw, I’m not sure his ceiling is much higher than that at LT. He’s young, very young, so maybe he’ll prove me wrong.
        3. Yes, I do put stock in draft position. So do Thompson and McCarthy. You have to figure they drafted Sherrod in the first because they saw a very high ceiling, a guy that could start at tackle the next 10 years. I suppose Newhouse could have already jumped ahead of Sherrod in terms of potential, but I doubt it. Of course, I could be overvaluing Sherrod because I haven’t seen him play that much and my idea of his potential doesn’t match reality.

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        • ThomasMagnumPI ThomasMagnumPI says:

          Well pit Adam I would also like to add that, from the games that I saw, I thought Newhouse did an admirable job as a fill in last year. However, he graded out as one of the worst qualifying OTs in football last year as per Pro Football focus or Football Insiders (I forget which one). Of course, we are all hoping that he can continue to improve on last year, but not having a contingency plan at LT is irresponsible and a major mistake IMO. Hopefully Sherrod can contribute this year, GB cannot afford to spend a high draft pick on an OT this year.

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        • Oppy says:

          As CSS touched on, one of the things the coaching staff really liked about Newhouse is that whenever he made a mistake, he learned from it, and didn’t make the same mistake twice.

          He was drafted knowing that he needed at least a year to develop his upper body strength. He’s still a work in progress, but the kid has the feet.

          One scout called him “the steal of the draft” in 2010. It will be interesting to see how he comes along. My only point was simply that Sherrod is a relative unknown at this point where as with Newhouse at least he’s had substantial play time. It wasn’t always pretty, but he’s shown enough promise and ability to adjust his game on the fly that he might deserve a bit more consideration than many are giving him.

          As far as draft position, Hawk or Bishop? Daryn Colledge or Josh Sitton? Donald Driver or James Jones? Aaron Rodgers or Alex Smith.. or Jamarcus Russell?

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          • Adam Czech says:

            Sherrod has played a handful of snaps. I’m not ready to call him AJ Hawk, Alex Smith or Jamarcus Russel yet.

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            • Oppy says:

              I meant only to illustrate that draft position is completely irrelevant the moment you sign your contract.

              Yes, players are drafted based on a best guess at future production. But time and time again it is proven that drafting isn’t an exact science, and you never really know how high a player’s ceiling is.

              I did not mean to imply Sherrod is a bust; only that I think it is a mistake to judge his ability compared to another player based on draft slotting when the one player has played a near-full season, while the other took a few snaps.

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  12. Don "Yoop" Christensen Yoop says:

    Yes this is Newhouse’s first off season program. He was placed on I.R. the end of 2010. And no one had a off season last year.
    Newhouse has a LOT of work to do, but he held his own on a 15-1 team and IMO will improve greatly after getting that playing experience last year.

    Sherrod is the player I think everyone thinks will be the starting LT at some time. This next year? Not out of the box.

    They need to draft a mid round prospect for Center that can also play Guard.
    The good thing is there are players in place to create competition.

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    • Oppy says:

      If Newhouse was drafted in April of 2010, and he was IR’d at the end of 2010, that wouldn’t have him missing OTAs or camp in 2010.

      When you say the end of 2010, you really mean the end- he was placed on IR December 31st.

      I’m pretty sure he was in camp, OTA’s and all the other fun stuff as a rook.

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