Category Archives: Offensive Line

11

April

Packers Like Odd Pairing At A Key Position

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

Despite never having played a snap at center or in a NFL game, Tretter seems like a front runner for the Packers center position in 2014

During this week’s No Huddle Radio podcast, we had the pleasure of chatting with Dan Shonka of Ourlads Scouting Services about everything draft related.

Of course, there were deep ties to the Green Bay Packers and what we might see from them in next month’s draft.  One interesting comment that Dan made about drafting players to play certain positions in the NFL.

Shonka’s example couldn’t have been more perfect for the Packers’ current situation at offensive center.  He said that if a team needs a center, they should draft a center.  He has never been a big proponent of drafting a guard or a tackle to convert to another position due to the risk of that conversion not being a success.

Sure, there are occasions where a player can develop multiple skill sets.  Guard T.J. Lang is an example there.  Lang was a left tackle in college and was immediately tried at guard in Green Bay.  Lang did also work at tackle and has even played tackle in live game action, but he’s now entrenched at guard and has proven to be very suitable there.  Still, examples such as Lang seem to be more the exception and not the rule.

During head coach Mike McCarthy’s time in Green Bay, we have seen many examples of players who were offensive tackles in college and tried at guard and/or center with the Packers.  A few that come to mind besides Lang:  Derek Sherrod, David Bakhtiari, and Bryan Bulaga to name a few.  Heading into this season, Bulaga and Bakhtiari are presumed to be the starting tackle tandem.  Sherrod is once again back at tackle as a backup.

Beyond the versatility that it can offer, it begs the question as to why McCarthy continues to try and turn tackles into interior linemen.

We know McCarthy likes players that can do multiple things.  He likes his linebackers and tight ends on special teams.  He obviously likes his linemen to be able to step in at any spot on the line and in a pinch.  But is that the best way to build that continuity that he also talks about having on the line?

7

April

Ted Thompson Must Not Care Much About the Center Position

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

It seemed to me to be a no-brainer. The Packers have no one on their roster with more than minimal NFL experience as  a center.  Before yesterday, there were 19 players on the NFL Free Agent Tracker listed at the center position. Surely Ted would be looking to bring in an inexpensive player with real experience at center in case the JC Tretter conversion doesn’t work out.

Well, Ted has done nothing yet and now there are 18 centers on the market, with arguably the best of the bunch now off the board.

The NFC  North Division rival Bears signed former Saints starting center Brian De La Puente on Sunday. De La Puente was a guy I had on my radar as the best target for Ted Thompson to bring in as cheap veteran insurance. Only I had no idea how cheap.

The Bears signed De La Puente for a veteran minimum contract ($735K for a player with 4 years experience) with a $65,000 signing bonus and only $100,00 in guaranteed money. That’s quite a bargain for a player ranked as the fifth best center in the NFL over the last three seasons, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Still young at only 28yrs old, De La Puente turned down the Lions and the Saints to join the Bears and his old offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. While that makes sense, it is odd that he joins a team where he is expected to be a backup, not a starter. Certainly a team like the Packers could have offered him a better opportunity to win a starting job.  But apparently, that offer never came.

With how inexpensively De La Puente came, one can’t say the Packers (Ted) were being cheap, a common refrain heard from many critics. So that leaves several other possibilities:

1) The Packers are dead-on convinced Tretter is their center of the present and the future.

2) The Packers are planning to draft a starting center.

2) Ted Thompson just doesn’t value the center position that highly.

Let’s take a look at the first option. I recently wrote about the state of the center position for WTMJonline.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

29

March

Cory’s Corner: Packers are undervaluing the center position

Frank Winters was Brett Favre's starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Frank Winters was Brett Favre’s starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Just how important is the quarterback-center battery in the NFL?

Apparently, it’s not that overly important to the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is about to embark on his fourth different starting center to begin the season.

Think about that for a second.

Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet. Amazingly, he has been able to average 31 touchdowns a season with a 58-29 record in six seasons. And he’s done it despite playing with a revolving door at the leadership position of the offensive line.

In 16 years with the Packers, Brett Favre had five different centers start the majority of games. But that counts James Campen for one season in 1992 and the person nobody remembers — Grey Ruegamer in 2004.

Favre’s mainstay was Frank Winters. “Bag of Doughnuts” and Favre were teammates for 11 seasons and were able to grow up together and make each other better.

Rodgers hasn’t had that yet. Right when Rodgers and Scott Wells were beginning to form a cohesive bond, the Packers didn’t bring him back after four years of working as the quarterback-center battery and thus, the process started all over again.

The next person to come on down is JC Tretter. Last year’s fourth round draft pick hasn’t started a game in the NFL but the Packers are handing him a shot to ignite one of the most dynamic offenses in the league with each snap.

Centers aren’t exactly a glory position. No kid gazes into the mirror and dreams of one day making a perfect shotgun snap to his quarterback before quickly reasserting himself as a pass blocker. Heck, Tretter was a quarterback, running back and wideout in high school.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

But that doesn’t mean the job of a center should be understated. While left tackles get the money for protecting the quarterback’s blind side, it’s the center that makes the coverage adjustments. A center is the quarterback of the offensive line.

So when Rodgers comes back to camp not knowing much about his next center, he needs to spend time getting to know how things will work. If you’re Rodgers, you don’t want to learn in Week 3 that your center has a problem with a quick snap count or a pronounced loud bark in order to draw a defense offsides.

14

March

Evan Dietrich-Smith Signs With The Buccaneers

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Tom Silverstein has been a busy guy, first reporting on the resigning of defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji and now reporting that center Evan Dietrich-Smith has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

With that, the Packers now have a big question to answer this offseason, much like they did when they let Scott Wells sign with the St. Louis Rams.   JC Tretter becomes perhaps the de facto starter, which is a little scary considering he was a left tackle in college and broke his foot during rookie orientation last year, essentially giving him a redshirt rookie season.  Other options might include Don Barclay, who practiced at center during training camp last year with somewhat disastrous results or TJ Lang, who is rumored to be the emergency center (or at least Josh Sitton jokes that he is). Luckily, the Packers have some other options on the offensive line, with both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod likely being in the mix at tackle, either Don Barclay and/or David Bakhtiari could slide into the interior.

In terms of the draft, the Packers have never thought very highly of centers (Wells was a 6th round draft choice while EDS was a undrafted free agent), so it’s unlikely that they would draft a center high, rather they like to draft tackles who likely wouldn’t make it in the NFL and convert them to interior linemen.

The top free agent center is Alex Mack, who was designated the transition franchise tag for the Browns, likely meaning that the Packers will not try to pry Mack away from the Browns.  Again going back to Thompson’s history drafting and retaining centers, it appears as if the Packers front office views centers as largely fungible, meaning the Packers backup likely will be another low round draft pick or an undrafted free agent.  Another option might be to run the “Jeff Saturday” play, where the Packers sign a veteran center while they hope JC Tretter or Don Barclay gain enough experience at center to play next there next season.

13

February

Derek Sherrod 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

 

1) Introduction: The 32nd pick in round one of the NFL Draft, Derek Sherrod was supposed to be the stud left tackle in Green Bay for the next 10 years.  In my OT ratings for the CheeseheadTV Draft Guide, I ranked him as the second best tackle prospect, behind only Tyron Smith (a Pro Bowl Selection from Dallas this year). I was ecstatic when the Packers drafted Sherrod.

2) Profile:

Derek Sherrod

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 4/23/1989 in Chula Vista, CA
  • Height: 6’6″
  • Weight: 321
  • College: West Virginia
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:   Four words: GET ON THE FIELD. Recovering from the nasty broken leg he suffered in game 5 of his 2011 rookie season, had proven to be much more difficult than most imagined. Could Sherrod be ready for the start of the season?

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Highlight would have to be the six snaps he played at right tackle against Detroit in the Thanksgiving Massacre – his only 6 snaps of the season. Lowlight would be winding up on the PUP list almost two years after his injury.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Nil. Was active for eight games after coming off the PUP list. The pure definition of “bench warmer.”

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: None. Did not play.

Season Report Card:

It’s really not fair to grade Sherrod, so we’ll just give him an “incomplete” and hope he’s “grade-worthy” next season.

(inc) Level of expectations met during the season

(inc) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(inc) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  INCOMPLETE

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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12

February

Don Barclay 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

 

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

1) Introduction: The Packers started the 2012 season with only seven offensive linemen on the roster, showing a tremendous amount of faith in unheralded Evan Dietrich-Smith and Don Barclay. As we now know, both of those players became starters a year later; one could say out of necessity, but with little doubt they earned their spots. Barclay had competition for his spot and won out with blue collar work ethic and a never-say die determination.

2) Profile:

Don Barclay

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 4/18/1989 in Newport News, VA
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 305
  • College: West Virginia
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:   Having ended the 2012 season with 4 starts at right tackle and Bryan Bulaga being moved to left tackle, Barclay would be challenged by Marshall Newhouse and David Bakhtiari for the starting right tackle job.When Bulaga went down and Sherrod proved still not ready to play, Bakhtiari became the starting left tackle and Barclay was left to compete with Marshall Newhouse for the right tackle job.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Barclay’s season lowlight was in the playoff game against the 49ers.  He was on his heels early and often, allowing a good amount of pressure on Aaron Rodgers. Barclay’s cleanest game was against the Cowboys. Barclay pitched a shutout in that game – no sacks, no QB hits and no QB pressures.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: In terms of pass protection, Barclay was the most ineffective of the Packers starters. In 15 games, according to ProFootballFocus, Barclay surrendered 9 sacks, 6 GB Hits and 27 QB Hurries. Barclay’s tenacity as a run blocker was a big asset to the Packers’ new found running game with Eddie Lacy.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: As stated previously, Barclay had a tough time in the playoffs against the 49ers. Ahmad Brooks was able to get consistent pressure on Rodgers and Barclay was ”
credited” with giving up 1.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries.

Season Report Card:

(B-) Level of expectations met during the season

(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  C

12

February

Marshall Newhouse 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

 

Packers Offensive Lineman Marshall Newhouse

Packers Offensive Lineman Marshall Newhouse

1) Introduction: Marshall Newhouse started 31 games for the Packers from 2011-2012, 28 at left tackle. Based on the number of sacks/hits/hurries he allowed, that’s less a compliment to Newhouse and more an indictment of the sorry state of the Packers tackle position, with a big help from the Packers’ recurring injury issues.

2) Profile:

Marshall Newhouse

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 9/29/1988 in Dallas, TX.
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 319
  • College: Texas Christian
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Marshall Newhouse entered the 2013 season expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot with Don Barclay.  Newhouse would be looking to regain his mojo and some of the promise he flashed early in his career.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Lowlights? Any game he played a significant number of snaps. In 2.5 games as a starter against the Eagles, Giants and Vikings, Newhouse was credited with a combined 16 QB hits/hurries/sacks. Highlights? Being inactive in 7 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Played a total of 261 snaps with two starts when Barclay was injured. Was mysteriously insert at guard for a few plays against the Lions and was then quickly benched.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Played 11 snaps after Baktiari suffered a concussion in the 4th quarter. Did nothing of substance, but also did nothing that really hurt the Packers in that short stint.

 

Season Report Card:

(F) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  D-

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Follow Jersey Al:


                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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