Packers Post-Draft Positional Review: Offensive Line

Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

The recently announced changes on the line give us clarity at four of the five starting positions as we approach the start of OTAs.

With today's position review slated to be going up on the offensive line, we had to completely re-work this piece when the news broke this morning about the Packers shuffling linemen around. That said, I suddenly feel more at peace about the chances of keeping Aaron Rodgers in once piece now that we have an established tackle who has played at a high level protecting the quarterback's blind side.

Rookies

David Bakhtiari, Colorado (4th-round)

We got a feel for Bakhtiari a bit with our film review and a look at him from The Ralphie Report, but it seems like he'll be a long shot to make an immediate impact on the roster, at least as a starter. He'll almost certainly make the roster for depth purposes and because of his draft status, but to expect big things from him in year one is probably a stretch.

J.C. Tretter, Cornell (4th-round)

The big question with Tretter is what position he will play for Green Bay. His draft selection makes a lot more sense if the Packers indeed view him as a guard and/or center project, which seems most likely. Whether he will be the immediate backup at any of the interior positions will be determined in training camp.

Patrick Lewis, Texas A&M (UDFA)

Lewis is listed at center, and will likely be given a shot to earn a spot on the team's practice squad.

Jeremy Vujnovich, Louisiana College (UDFA)

See Lewis above, but at tackle or guard instead of center.

Veterans

Bryan Bulaga

As we just found out this morning, Bulaga will be playing left tackle from now on. Though there will likely be some adjustment there, he should provide a significant upgrade in the run game over Marshall Newhouse, and will hopefully provide better pass protection for Aaron Rodgers as well. Keep in mind that he played at a Pro Bowl level in 2011 on the right side, and if he is fully healthy he has all the ability to be a very good left tackle.

Josh Sitton

Moving to the left side with Bulaga is another annual Pro Bowl contender in Sitton. Their move together will hopefully ease their transitions and make for one of the stronger weak side tandems in the NFC.

Evan Dietrich-Smith

The starting center at the end of last season remains there now that he received and signed his restricted free agent tender. EDS as a guard was a liability in pass blocking (-2.7 from Pro Football Focus in six games) but a great run blocker (+6.1), but that flipped when he moved to center as he had positive pass block grades in his four starts at center and negative run block grades in each of those games. Hopefully with a full offseason focusing at the center position he will be able to rebound in the run game and provide a solid push up the middle.

T.J. Lang

Lang is a good guard. He is not a good fit at tackle, as we learned once again in 2012. At this point he is a known commodity and the shift from the left to the right side should not affect him too much, as it's less of a change than bouncing all the way out to tackle.

Marshall Newhouse

The play of the Packers' former starting left tackle may be the driving force behind the whole shift. He actually started the season fairly well in pass protection, but struggled in the second half of the season. He also provides little in the running game, and though he will get an opportunity to compete for the starting job at right tackle I have my doubts on whether he can win the job.

Don Barclay

Barclay's performance wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination last year, but he helped stabilize the right side of the line and allowed Lang to move back to guard where he belongs. For now, Barclay looks like the front-runner for the starting right tackle job by default.

Derek Sherrod

We have gone rounds on this site about Sherrod's rehab from his injury and whether or not he can come back and be a productive lineman for this team. He is probably the greatest unknown on the entire line, and he could end up starting, getting released, or anything in between.

Greg Van Roten

Signed as an undrafted free agent from Pennsylvania last season, Van Roten made a few brief appearances late in the season after being promoted off the practice squad. He is probably the default backup at the guard positions for the time being, but he still will need a good camp to keep a roster spot.

Garth Gerhart

Gerhart was signed to the practice squad in January when tackle Shea Allard was released, and might be the only true center on the roster. But with the Packers appreciating versatility in their backup linemen, it will be an uphill climb for him to make the opening week 53.

Andrew Datko

Datko's progression will be interesting to watch in camp this season. If his shoulder troubles are behind him, there is a lot of potential in the young tackle, who was a seventh round pick last year. He will certainly be looking to make an early impression in OTAs after spending last season on the practice squad.

Kevin Hughes

Here's another street free agent signing that Ted Thompson made early this off-season. Hughes played briefly in St. Louis during the 2011 season and will come into training camp as a long shot to make the team.

Projected Depth Chart

Left tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod

Left guard: Josh Sitton, Greg Van Roten

Center: Evan Dietrich-Smith, Garth Gerhart, J.C. Tretter, Patrick Lewis

Right guard: T.J. Lang, Van Roten

Right tackle: Don Barclay, Newhouse, Andrew Datko, David Bakhtiari, Jeremy Vujnovich

As we noted in our article on the changes to the line, the right tackle position is very much up in the air. Barclay gets the early nod by default because he ended the 2012 season as the starter at the position.

Other post-draft positional reviews: Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Defensive Line

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