The Green Bay Packers deviated from the script Friday, trading three draft picks in order to move up for Indiana offensive lineman Jason Spriggs. While the news appeared to come out of left field, Spriggs' rare package of physical tools along with the contract uncertainty surrounding three of the team's starting offensive linemen perhaps explains the decision.
More than most teams, the Packers covet athleticism in their offensive linemen. Spriggs can certainly move well, having run under 5 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 4.44 seconds in the short shuttle while registering 115 inches in the broad jump, all among the very best for offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine. Spriggs also produced 31 reps on the bench press, fourth best for his position group. Combined with his stature -- 6-foot-6, 301 pounds with 34 1/8-inch arms and 10 1/8-inch hands -- the Indiana product has everything scouts look for in an offensive lineman.
However, the reason Spriggs did not hear his name called earlier in the draft is inconsistent performance. While he displayed flashes of dominance at Bloomington, Ind., he also produced plenty of bad tape. On a bad day, Big Ten defenders brutalized him with bull rushes. Spriggs didn't always position himself well in his pass sets, allowing speedier edge rushers to slide past him. It could take some time before the Packers feel comfortable putting him on the field during a regular season game.
Though the Packers may need to wait on Spriggs to iron out his flaws, they don't have a glaring hole along their offensive line at present. When healthy, the unit of David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga ranks among the best in the league. That could change next offseason when Bakhtiari and both guards hit free agency. Green Bay may retain one or two of those players, but likely not all three.
And that scenario explains why general manager Ted Thompson made the decision to trade up for Spriggs. If he can get up to speed by 2017, it gives the team an option at one of their potential vacancies. In the interim, he can back up both tackle spots while learning his craft.