Acme Packing Company continues our breakdown of the Packers offseason roster. Today we take a look at the new offensive linemen to join the Packers this season. The Packers used two draft picks on tackles and brought in three undrafted free agents. The two draft picks have a good shot to make the team and add some young depth to the offensive line. The undrafted rookies will have a tougher road ahead of them and will look to impress Mike McCarthy and his staff. Let’s take a look at who is coming back for 2016.
#78 JASON SPRIGGS
2nd Round Draft Pick (#48 Overall) from Indiana University
6’6", 301 pounds
Jason Spriggs was an All-American selection for multiple news agencies this past season. The four-year starter was a staple at left tackle for the Hoosiers, starting 47 of his 48 games at the position. He only gave up two sacks and was the captain of an offensive line that produced two 1,000-yard rushers last year.
Spriggs will add some much needed depth at both tackle positions for the Packers and he is in a perfect position to learn from veterans, David Bahktiari and Bryan Bulaga. When asked about possibility of how important it would be to learning behind the two veterans, Spriggs told the Indy Star, "I think that’s huge. That’s going to make me that much better, to learn from them."
If the Packers were to lose one or more of their current offensive lineman to injury or free agency next season, Spriggs will most likely get first crack at the vacancy. When asked if he preferred to play on the right or left side Spriggs said, "It’s kind of up to fit. I played left tackle at IU all four years, and I think I can move around. Like I said, it’s kind of up to debate where they want to fit me at." In either case, the Packers have added a talented and youthful piece to the offensive line that will help them for years to come.
#68 KYLE MURPHY
6th Round Draft Pick (#200 Overall) from Stanford University
6’6" 305 pounds
The Packers got another good sized offensive lineman to add to the mix with Kyle Murphy. Murphy has started 27 games the past two years at both tackle positions for Stanford and earned a First Team All-Pac 12 selection this past year.
Murphy might start off as at one of those guard/tackle swing players and as he gets a better understanding of the NFL game but, if he catches on quick, he could get moved back out to his natural position. Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it doesn’t matter where he plays: "I’m just unbelievably excited to be part of the offensive line and be in that room, and just play wherever they need me to play. I think I can play guard, tackle, center, wherever the coach needs me. I’m definitely not going to pigonhole myself anywhere. I’ve only played tackle throughout my career, but the NFL is a different game."
Having a great attitude and work ethic came out from his pro day and it’s easy to see how he became one of Offensive Line Coach James Campen’s targets in the draft. Ted Thompson agreed with Campen and had this to say, " We had several guys go out to the West Coast and Stanford in particular. He is a big man and he plays the game well." Being that well liked and being available in the 6th round could make Murphy quite the steal if he lives up to the praise of the coaching staff. Let’s hope this draft has similar results to when the Packers took Chad Clifton early and Mark Tauscher late in the 2000 draft.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
#57 JACOB FLORES
6’3", 300 pounds
Jacob Flores was an All-Ivy League selection this past year as the Dartmouth center. He is a three year starter, in which during his sophomore and junior season he was at left tackle before being moved to center for his senior season. Flores had good numbers at his pro day with 22 reps on the bench press and a 5.25 40-yard dash with 10–yard split of 1.81.
When asked about how he received the call from the Packers, Flores told The Dartmouth (Dartmouth’s college newspaper), "I was just so nervous watching the draft that I went to church to gather myself…Church went by and at the end ,I got the phone call from the Green Bay Packers scout who had seen me at our pro-day. He told me on the phone, ‘I said we would call you, and we really like your game and your intangibles." Flores will get a chance to show off those intangibles as battles for a spot on the roster as a backup to Corey Linsley.
#62 CORY TUCKER
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
6’4", 315 pounds
Cory Tucker had a very impressive career at the Division II level as he was named All-American by six different organizations after his senior season. He started 48 straight game at right tackle and finished third in the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award. He paved the way for "The Rock" to have the fifth best offense at the D2 level, including the 12th ranked rushing offense at 257.7 yards per game.
On Tucker’s opportunity to join the Packers as an undrafted free agent, Slippery Rock Head Coach Shawn Lutz released a statement through the Slippery Rock Athletic Communication department, "Cory Tucker is a guy that came in here and worked his tail off for his whole career…He came in here undersized and worked relentlessly in the weight room every day to become one of the best players in the country." After getting to look at some of his film, he projects as a guard at the NFL level. He has good speed and athleticism but needs to get more power out of his lower body on his blocks. He has work ethic like that is something the Packer Nation loves to see and Tucker will have as good a shot as any to make the practice squad.
#72 JOSH JAMES
Carroll College (Montana)
6’5", 314 pounds
Josh James is another "small school" player who had a stellar career in college. James was a two-year start at Carroll College in Montana at the NAIA level. After this past season, he was named to the AFCA All-American Team. James was one of 30 players brought in for interviews before the draft and talks about his visit to Green Bay: "Their facilities were, of course, much bigger than Carroll and anything that I am used to seeing but the people there were extremely nice. I really like their offensive line coach, coach (James) Campen…It felt right and I am excited that I get to return and be a part of that."
I got to see some film on James and he is a huge body compared to others at the NAIA level and he dominated his competition. He has good strength and plays hard, through the whistle. He will need to work on lowering his pad level and getting better footwork, especially in his pass sets. Overall, he is a raw prospect that has some definite potential to make the practice squad.