The word “if” is used a lot when evaluating rookies before they’ve ever played a snap in the NFL. If Rookie A can learn the offense, he’ll be a star. If Rookie B fixes his technique, watch out. If Rookie C stays out of jail, he’s a pro-bowler.
The Packers 2012 draft class – like everyone else’s – features plenty of “if” guys, the biggest of which might be seventh-round selection Andrew Datko, an offensive tackle from Florida St.
When healthy, Datko was an excellent tackle in college. He’s tall, he’s agile, and he only allowed four sacks in his final three seasons. He was one of the more highly-regarded tackles in the nation before the 2011 season began and his future looked bright.
But here’s where the “if” comes into play: Datko has a bum left shoulder. Surgery before the 2011 season didn’t take and the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder only played in four games. It was his third surgery on the same shoulder since high school and Datko’s draft stock plummetted.
It’s not that Datko didn’t want to play. He showed his toughness by playing his entire junior season at FSU with a torn labrum. But the size, agility, intelligence and toughness wasn’t enough to impress teams who were scared away by the shoulder.