After discussing the Green Bay Packers' candidates for playing time at offensive tackle earlier today, it is time to give our predictions for the players who will be making the opening week roster. There will be few surprises here, as last year's performances and this off-season's investments make this position grouping relatively clear. Regardless, we give you our predictions for who makes the team and we also take a stab at which of the candidates will emerge with the starting job at right tackle.
Projected Starters: Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse
We all know that Bulaga will be the starter at left tackle this season. The offensive line flip was largely due to his better all-around game than Newhouse.
However, we still project that Newhouse will earn the starting job at right tackle. It was not unanimous, however, as one writer projected Don Barclay as the starter but was overruled. struggled with inconsistency in his pass blocking in his 8 starts last season (including playoffs) - he had two games with positive grades from Pro Football Focus (+1.7 vs. CHI, +1.7 vs. MIN in the Wild-Card round) but strongly negative grades in the other five games in which he played substantially. If Newhouse can prove himself in training camp to be at least a capable run-blocker, we think he will earn the job for the start of the season.
Projected Backups: Don Barclay, David Bakhtiari
Versatility is the name of the game for the backup tackles. Either one will likely have the capability to slide inside to guard if the need arises, and they will therefore be critical pieces to the offensive puzzle in the event of an injury anywhere on the line. Barclay can fill in at guard, and Bakhtiari will likely be playing several different positions throughout training camp and the preseason.
It's worth noting that the four tackles making the roster were all unanimous selections by the five of us.
Off the Roster: Derek Sherrod, Kevin Hughes
We mentioned Andrew Datko and JC Tretter earlier this morning in our self-scouting article, but they're still more guards at this point than tackles, so we'll address them on Monday.
Sherrod seems to be a candidate to start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list once again, which was where he started last year before being placed on Injured Reserve. With him missing all of the OTA and minicamp practices, we see no reason to think that his 2013 season will start any differently.
Hughes is a victim of a numbers game here - the Packers have too few spots for offensive linemen and too many bodies with which to fill those spots. Hughes has the least invested in him of any tackle currently on the roster, and it would be a massive leap of faith to think that the journeyman will explode in training camp and earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
We'll be taking the weekend off from our position breakdowns, but join us again on Monday when we break down the interior of the offensive line.