The Battle to be the Packers’ 6th Man on the Offensive Line
There has been a lot of news worth following on the Packers offensive line this offseason. Another storyline up front that should develop further once training camp heats up is who will “win” the sixth-man slot on the offensive line.
I put “win” in parentheses because, technically, if you’re the sixth man on the line, it means you failed to land a starting spot. In other words, you lost the battle you were actually trying to win.
Nobody goes into camp hoping to “win” a spot on the bench, but when it comes to the offensive line, the sixth man typically ends up getting at least a few starts and playing some type of meaningful role during the season. If you don’t start on the line, being the sixth-man is the spot you want to secure.
The leading candidates to be the Packers sixth man appear to be Marshall Newhouse, Don Barclay, Derek Sherrod and rookie David Bakhtiari.
In an ideal world, I think the Packers would like to see Sherrod storm into camp fully recovered from his broken leg and show everyone why Ted Thompson spent a first-round draft pick on him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Sherrod is on track to do that.
Ideally, the sixth-man on the line needs to be able to play multiple positions. Sherrod was drafted as a left tackle, but did compete at guard during training camp of his rookie season. Strength and nastiness appeared to be Sherrod’s weaknesses before he was injured.
Can he hold up inside against the big and physical interior lineman if asked to play guard? Is Sherrod physical enough to provide the run-blocking needed at right tackle, or anywhere else on the line?
Take everything I wrote about Sherrod about nastiness and apply it to Newhouse.
Newhouse has showed signs of being a decent pass-blocker, but the Packers are looking for more of a complete package. They need more consistency in pass blocking and more results in run blocking.
One possible scenario with Newhouse if he doesn’t win the starting right tackle job is this: The Packers would have two “sixth men” up front, Newhouse at tackle and a more physical run blocker-type player at guard.
The undrafted rookie was a great story last season, but I’m not sure he’s starter material. Does that make him a good fit as the sixth man?
Pro Football Focus gave Barclay a -7.5 grade last season, -6.4 pass blocking and -0.8 run blocking. He’s physical enough to clear some lanes run blocking, but he’s on the small side.
I see Barclay as a decent backup, someone who can fill in here and there and not blow up the entire line. However, if he’s asked to start for an extended period of time, things could take a turn for the worse.
I suppose that fits the definition of a sixth man. If I thought he was a lights out player, I’d predict him to be the starter instead of including him in the discussion as sixth man.
It looks like the rookie is in the mix to start at right tackle, which automatically puts him in the sixth-man race.
Bakhtiari played on a bad team in college and flew under the radar, but it sounds like he’s athletic enough to move around the line and had a good rookie camp.
Scouting reports questioned Bakhtiari’s athleticism and pegged him as a guard in the NFL, but at least for now, he’s being tried out at tackle.
Is Bakhtiari strong enough to play inside? That’s a question we seem to be asking about all of the sixth-man candidates besides Barclay.
It’s way too early to say anything for sure, but “I have no idea” is a boring answer.
My gut tells me that Newhouse will win the right tackle job and Barclay will be the sixth man. The seventh lineman to dress on Sundays will be Bakhtiari, leaving Sherrod’s future in doubt.
I would not be shocked at all if Barclay and Bakhtiari end up starting at least one game apiece in 2013. I also wouldn’t be shocked at all if everything I’ve written in this post is obsolete come the first day of training camp.
Another thing that just popped in my mind: Where does Andrew Datko fit into this discussion? How about Greg Van Roten or Lane Taylor?
The offensive line will be an interesting storyline to follow and a lot of the story is unknown at the moment.——————