Over the next few weeks, we will break down each position on the Green Bay Packers' 2015 roster in detail, discussing each player and making our predictions for the final 53-man roster.
Today, we will be examining the Green Bay Packers' returning guards and centers - the players making up the interior of the offensive line. While Don Barclay will likely serve to help back up the guards, he is looked at primarily as a tackle for the time being and was included in yesterday's breakdown at that position.
The Packers have assembled quite the group of talent on the interior, despite not using a draft pick prior to the fourth round at the positions. Still, the three starters all should garner Pro Bowl consideration if they play at the same level as they did in 2014. If they continue to improve, it will be a tough task for any defensive line to keep Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy at bay.
Josh Sitton, G
H/W: 6'3", 318 pounds
NFL Seasons: 7
College: Central Florida
Contract Details: signed through 2016; 2015 cap hit of $7 million
Sitton finally earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2014 after another stellar season at left guard. He and his partner at right guard have continued to prove that the Packers' switch of the two players before the 2013 season was not a mistake, as each has become even better since flipping positions. At only 29 years old, Sitton should still have several All-Pro-type seasons ahead of him, earning second-team honors each of the last two seasons from the AP and first-team in 2014 from the PFWA.
T.J. Lang, G
Age: 27 (turns 28 in September)
H/W: 6'4", 318 pounds
NFL Seasons: 6
College: Eastern Michigan
Contract Details: signed through 2016; 2015 cap hit of $5.8 million
Lang's 2014 season was a sign that he continues to be on the upswing, as he equaled his partner Sitton in overall grading by Pro Football Focus. After his humble beginnings, struggling at tackle, he has found his niche at right guard and is a nasty run-blocker as well as an excellent pass protector. 2015 might be the year that both Packers earn Pro Bowl consideration.
Corey Linsley, C
H/W: 6'3", 301 pounds
NFL Seasons: 1
College: Ohio State
Contract Details: signed through 2017; 2015 cap hit of $556,250
Though he came with the same fanfare as Sitton and Lang (the two guards being fourth-round picks while Linsley was chosen in the fifth round), Linsley hit his stride earlier than either of the guards. Sitton didn't start regularly until his second year, and Lang until his third. Linsley, on the other hand, demonstrated quality play from the start in his rookie year, earning one All-Pro vote in his first season. Now that he has a year under his belt, look for him to continue to get national recognition as his second season goes along.
JC Tretter, C
H/W: 6'4", 307 pounds
NFL Seasons: 2
Contract Details: signed through 2016; 2015 cap hit of $688,977
The center job was supposed to be Tretter's last season before he injured an ankle late in training camp and gave way to Linsley. The rest was history, as Tretter was relegated to being the backup center and tackle in the second half of the season, a role which he appears likely to resume when the 2015 season begins.
Lane Taylor, G
H/W: 6'3", 328 pounds
NFL Seasons: 2
College: Oklahoma State
Contract Details: signed through 2015; cap hit of $587,334
Taylor has backed up the Packers' guard positions each of the past two years, but has not impressed much when pressed into regular-season duty. With Don Barclay back to support the tackles as well as the guards, Taylor will need an impressive training camp if he is to keep a spot on the 53-man roster.
Garth Gerhart, C
Age: 26 (turns 27 in October)
H/W: 6'1, 310 pounds
NFL Seasons: 1
College: Arizona State
Contract Details: signed through 2015; cap hit of $510,000
Gerhart was added to the 53-man roster in September last year following Tretter's injury, and provided some insurance behind Linsley. He stuck around when Tretter returned, but since the Packers value versatility in their backup offensive linemen, it seems unlikely that he'll be on the squad again in 2015.
Josh Walker, G
H/W: 6'5", 328 pounds
NFL Seasons: None
College: Middle Tennessee State
Contract Details: signed through 2016; 2015 cap hit of $435,000
Walker is a bit of an unknown, but is the largest lineman on the roster not named Fabbians Ebbele. After spending most of last season on the practice squad, he could compete with the newcomers and Taylor for a backup guard job, however.