We continue on with our predictions for the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp as we move to the offensive line. Last season the injury bug hit the offensive line where the five starters missed a total of 10 regular season games and one playoff game. Josh Sitton was the only starter to not miss a game the entire season. The backups were tested often and frequently struggled when in the game and it became very apparent that the Packers needed to upgrade the depth of the position going into the 2016 season.
The 2016 will bring one constant that might change after the season. For the third straight year, the Packers will roll out with the same five starters. However, three of the five will be free agents after this season. With that and the struggles of the backups in 2015, Ted Thompson and company spent a second and sixth round pick to get younger and obtain more capable depth across the board. With those picks and some key backups returning, the Packers look for a much more successful year in the trenches.
Here are our projections for the offensive line coming out of camp.
David Bahktiari (LT), T.J. Lang (LG), Corey Linsley (C), Josh Sitton (RG), Bryan Bulaga (RT)
The Packers once again bring in a very talented offensive line, arguably one of the top front fives in the league. This group excels in their pass blocking and, if the injury bug stays away, Rodgers will have the time to throw the ball all over the place. They are no slouches in the run game either and I can see them paving the way for Eddy Lacy to get back on track after an off year.
Three players playing with a little more motivation are Bahktiari, Lang and Sitton as they are in their contract years. They are looking to stay healthy and for the Packers to put up big numbers. That could mean they will be looking for a big payday once the season is over. Hopefully, the Packers will pony up the cash to keep at least two of them for the future. If not, look to the backups for potential successors in 2017.
JC Tretter, Jason Spriggs, Lane Taylor and Kyle Murphy
These four backups have a nice combination that the Packers have lacked in the past: versatility.
Tretter has proven over the past few years that he can handle any position on the interior of the line and we even found out that he can handle the outside in a pinch with his great performance in the playoff game against Washington. Spriggs comes in as the Packers second round pick and gives the Packers some much needed insurance at both tackle spots. Taylor is a little undersized but he is a mauler and someone the Packers need to fortify the interior of the line. Murphy was the Packers sixth round pick and will give even more depth at the tackle spot. While he was a tackle at Stanford, don’t be surprised to see him get plenty of reps at guard also.
TO BE RELEASED
Don Barclay, Josh Walker, Matt Rotheram, Jacob Flores, Lucas Patrick, Josh James
Barclay had a horrendous year and looks to be on the down side after his ACL tear in 2014. Walker is a good player but stuck in that guard mold and would struggle with the speed of the game if he were brought outside. Rotheram was on the practice squad last year and a candidate to remain there this year too. He can play any spot on the interior but there is too much experience in front of him to crack the roster. Flores, Patrick and James are all undrafted free agent rookies and will be fighting for a spot on the practice squad. I expect at least two of these guys to make the practice squad with Rotheram, Patrick or James as the most likely candidates.