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On The Line

There may be some question marks on the team, but the offensive and defensive line haven't been this good at the same time in many seasons.

The mid-90s teams led by DE Reggie White usually had a solid to outstanding defensive line, but the offensive line often had a question mark at one position, especially at LT where 1st round picks John Michaels and Ross Verba both flamed out. C Frank Winters made the Pro Bowl and RT Earl Dotson played well, but the team never had a great offensive line in the 1990s.

By the time tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were drafted and teamed with Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, the offensive line became one of the best in the NFL from 2000 to 2004. However, the defensive line slipped after White's retirement. DE Jamal Reynolds was a top 10 pick, but he blew out his knee and lost his career to microfacture surgery. DT Santana Dotson's career ended shortly thereafter and DT Gilbert Brown merely hung around. DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila posted multiple 10+ sack seasons, but free agent DE Joe Johnson was a major bust and DE Vonnie Holliday never lived up to his potential. DT Grady Jackson had a couple of great seasons, but no other defensive tackle provided much and DT Cleditus Hunt is best forgotten.

Pro Football Prospectus only grades out the offensive line as average in 2006, but that was with three rookies logging many starts and a lot of playing time. Colledge, Spitz, and Moll should all take a step forward next season, with Moll receiving at least a few starts when injuries hit. The offensive line boasts a quality starter at every position and should be at least above average in 2007.

Pro Football Prospectus loves the defensive line. Ned Macey writes "If healthy, the Packers will have one of the top defensive lines in the league." DE Aaron Kampman should be loved by all Packer fans by this point, but the stats guys love him too. Macey writes about Kampman:

"At Football Outsiders, we prefer defensive ends that play both the run and the pass, which is one reason why we love Aaron Kampman. He made more plays in the running game than any other 4-3 end and still finished second in the NFL in sacks, second in quarterback hits, and sixth in hurries.
With DE Cullen Jenkins starting in place of Gbaja-Biamila, the run defense is much better, while Jenkins provides the best inside pass rush the Packers have had since Santana Dotson. DTs Corey Williams, Justin Harrell, and Ryan Pickett should be a very provide a very effective rotation at tackle.