As the Green Bay Packers enter the offseason, they will have six tackles under contract. Two of those tackles, David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay, were the primary starters in 2013 and played a combined 92.7% of possible offensive snaps in 2013. Two others are former first-round picks coming off lingering injury question marks (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod), while the third and final pair of Jeremy Vujnovich and Aaron Adams are on futures contracts.
With depth being present at the position, the Packers may elect to stand pat with their tackles. However, a few of these players could be targeted for transitions inside to guard, leaving some possible holes at tackle. As such, it's a good idea to at least investigate some free agent and draft prospect possibilities to continue to shore up the depth at the position.
Free Agent Options
Let's face it - if the Packers sign a free-agent tackle, it won't be for a lot of money and probably will not be a player who will have any expectation of starting. That knocks a number of candidates off the list right away. But here are a pair of names who could come in and provide some veteran depth.
Eben Britton (Bears)
Britton might be more of a guard, but he certainly has the big frame of a tackle at 6'6" and 310 pounds. He started four games at right guard to help with injuries, but replaced injured rookie Jordan Mills at right tackle in the Week 17 game against the Packers and played well in both the run game and pass protection. Britton could come cheap, as he played for the veteran minimum in 2013, and would provide some versatility at guard as well.
Jason Fox (Lions)
Like Britton, Fox played sparingly in 2013 as Detroit's primary backup tackle. He started three games at right tackle, performing capably in pass protection but struggling in the run game. Fox was playing on a one-year deal, and earned over $1.3 million in 2013, so he may be a bit more expensive.
It seems unlikely that the Packers would take a tackle early in the 2013 NFL Draft, but as last season's selection of David Bakhtiari showed, solid tackles can be found in any round. Here are a few to keep an eye on in May.
Billy Turner, North Dakota State
At an FCS powerhouse, Turner was a great left tackle, and he showed good technique and ability in Senior Bowl practice this week. Turner did play some guard, but worked at right tackle as well and was praised for his knee bend and quick feet. Ted Thompson is no stranger to drafting players from smaller schools, and Turner could be a target on day two or early on day three of the draft.
Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee
If tape truly tells the story, James might be a good target for a team needing a tackle this May, because there's a ton of tape on him. He set a Volunteers record with 49 starts, manning the right tackle position for all four years in Knoxville. He had to drop out of Senior Bowl practice midway through the week with a sprained ankle, but was impressing scouts and draft analysts there until that point.
Justin Britt, Missouri
The Tigers' left tackle might be one to watch if you're looking for a mid-round breakout candidate like Bakhtiari in this year's draft. Projected in the middle rounds, Britt's footwork is good and his in-line blocking is a positive. However, he could move to guard in the pros because of a perceived compact frame and lack of athleticism. Britt stands 6'6" and weighs in at 315 pounds, though, and certainly could prove to be a versatile and effective reserve lineman.
There you have it - a few tackles to watch for this off-season. We don't expect the Packers to do much at the position, but with Ted Thompson running the show, just about anything is possible*.
*Except overpaying for a free agent.
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