Packers Preseason Film Study – Derek Sherrod vs. T. J. Lang

Green Bay Packers Derek SherrodOne of the Packers’ most hotly contested training camp battles has been for the left guard spot, where Derek Sherrod and T. J. Lang have been sharing reps.

Sherrod has never played guard before, and it shows at times. But his athleticism level and football smarts have caused Coach Mike McCarthy to give him every opportunity to win a job. In fact, McCarthy has started Sherrod with the #1 offense from the first day of training camp, and so far, he remains there.

The consensus among professional media, bloggers and fans are that Lang will win the job. I say, not so fast. I totally buy the argument that Lang is a better fit at guard than Sherrod – I get that. But is he a better player? Would starting Lang at guard be consistent with McCarthy’s mantra to put “the best five on the field” for the Packers offensive line? From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think so.

Green Bay Packer T. J. Lang

This is eerily similar to last preseason with Bryan Bulaga. McCarthy gave the #1 draft choice every chance to win the job, but an injury eventually derailed that plan and McCarthy went with the safer bet, incumbent Daryn Colledge. I wrote at the time that I thought Bulaga was an NFL starter right then, and belonged on the field somewhere, even if at guard.

This week was my first glimpse of Sherrod in action as a Packer. Both he and Lang put a lot of snaps on tape for the coaches to evaluate. Perfect for my first film study of the 2011 season! I went back and studied every offensive play in the first half, when Cleveland was playing their starters and near-starters. Focusing strictly on Sherrod and Lang, I noticed some very interesting things. Let’s take a look at but a few.

Derek Sherrod in pass protection as a tackle:

Watch Sherrod’s feet. Quick short steps, up on the balls of his feet. Keeps the defender square in front of him the whole time, doesn’t succomb to the swim move and shows a good punch to keep the rusher off-balance and not allowing him to get into his body. These skills are why I was hoping for the Packers to land Sherrod last April -he will be their left tackle bookend for the rest of this decade. Now let’s look at T.J. Lang: