EDITOR'S NOTE: My apologies for the prediction on the interior OL being late. We ran into some scheduling issues - namely Tex (me) being on Pacific time for the whole weekend. We'll be back to our normal schedule and will cover the defensive line as scheduled this afternoon. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
You know the routine by now. APC breaks down the Packers' roster by taking a look at each position and subsequently make our predictions for who makes the final roster.
If you need a refresher on the voting process, we had five writers submit their full roster predictions, complete with projected starters and backups. We took the number of players at each position that were chosen most frequently, and the individual players who were put on the roster most often. At the interior linemen, all the writers agreed on the starters. Not all had the same backups, however.
Guards and centers on the 53-man roster: FOUR
Projected Starters: Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang
Pretty simple, right? Sitton and Lang were swapped to make the transition easier on Bryan Bulaga and with Marshall Newhouse our favorite to win the right tackle job, keeping Lang as a starter makes sense. Even if Don Barclay or someone else takes Newhouse's job, Lang, the Packers' best guard (after Sitton) will start.
Dietrich-Smith is really the only choice the Packers have at center. While head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen have cross-trained several linemen at center, Dietrich-Smith is the only one with meaningful experience playing the position in the NFL.
Projected Backup: Greg Van Roten
In total, the Packers will keep between seven and nine offensive linemen. Five of those start, leaving a max of four spots for backups. The team favors tackles who can double as guards. As a result, the Packers usually keep only one backup who plays solely on the interior. This year, we project Van Roten as that player.
While the APC voters didn't agree on how many offensive linemen the Packers will keep, everyone included Van Roten on their roster. Van Roten was also the only interior-only lineman to receive votes besides starter Dietrich-Smith, though that probably wouldn't have been the case had J.C. Tretter stayed healthy.
Off the Roster: J.C. Tretter, Andrew Datko, Garth Gerhart, Patrick Lewis, Lane Taylor
There are some caveats here. Tretter isn't going to be released by Green Bay. He suffered a broken ankle during his first practice and will miss six months or more. While that timeframe suggests he could be a PUP candidate, it's hard to believe a rookie guard with no practice time will be able to contribute this year. Tretter will likely land on injured reserve and try again next year.
Of the remaining linemen, only one received any votes for the final roster. That player, Datko, remains eligible for the practice squad. That's where most of APC's writers voted him, and that's where you can expect him to end up unless another team claims him.
As for the others, the Packers can only carry so many projects at a single position group. With Tretter expected to compete next year and Van Roten the only viable option after Dietrich-Smith, the team will have to let the rest try their luck someplace else.
Coming this afternoon: Dan takes on the Defensive Linemen
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn
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