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Packers 2016 offensive line additions: Jason Spriggs has quiet rookie year

Jason Spriggs played tackle, guard, and tight end during his first year in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Today, Acme Packing Company continues the examination of the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 roster. Each day over the next two weeks, we will break down a different position on the roster with examinations of the players on the 53-man roster in 2016, the contributions of new additions and players who signed new contracts, and players who have contracts expiring this offseason.

Because the Packers' offensive line could look so different next season, the team wisely made some investments a year early to better protect themselves. Those players didn't see the field too frequently -- generally a positive sign -- but they did receive some exposure at points during the season.

No. 78 Jason Spriggs

Experience: Rookie
College: Indiana University
How acquired: Drafted in second round (No. 48 overall)
2016 statistics: 16 game appearances, two starts

The Packers surprised the draft community when they trade up -- not down -- to acquire Indiana's Jason Spriggs in the early second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. At the time, three of the team's starting offensive linemen had deals set to expire at the end of the season, including left tackle David Bakhtiari. If nothing else, Spriggs' arrival signaled that Green Bay had a plan in case their blindside protector proved too costly to retain.

That changed just before Week 1 when Bakhtiari signed his long-term extension. With both tackles locked up for years to come, Spriggs' future became more difficult to decipher.

With no clear place for Spriggs along the line, the team utilized him in a number of ways during his rookie season. The towering blocker played as a blocking tight end in certain heavy packages, backed up at guard, and even saw some limited action as a tackle. His performance rose and dipped as a consequence.

Spriggs' future still appears to lie at tackle, but with T.J. Lang set to hit free agency, the team might try to force him inside to guard in 2017. Either way, the second-year man needs to add significant strength to compete.

No. 68 Kyle Murphy

Experience: Rookie
College: Stanford University
How acquired: Drafted in sixth round (No. 200 overall)
2016 statistics: Inactive 15 games

A late-round project, Kyle Murphy spent most of the season watching from the sidelines in street clothes. The Packers have wisely invested Day 3 draft picks in linemen for years, allowing them to spend a year or so in the system before giving them the chance to start. Josh Sitton and Lang followed this path to Pro Bowl stardom, and Bakhtiari might have too if not forced into the starting lineup Week 1 as a rookie. Under position coach James Campen, the system has paid dividends for the team.

Murphy played tackle at Stanford and has the size to stay at there in the NFL. However, Green Bay compared him to Lang shortly after the draft, suggesting that he could shift inside to guard at some point instead. Either way, Murphy remains a mystery until further notice.

No. 65 Lane Taylor

Experience: Four seasons
College: Oklahoma State
How acquired: Signed as an unrestricted free agent
2016 statistics: 16 starts

In the early offseason, Lane Taylor signed a modest two-year deal to stick with the Packers and back up Sitton and Lang at guard. Those plans (and his career trajectory) changed when the team unexpectedly released Sitton during final cuts, instantly transforming Taylor from a reserve into a starter.

While Taylor ranked fifth out of the five starters in 2016, he never proved himself to be a liability. Taylor provided steady pass protection and capable run blocking, even working outside of his perceived comfort zone by pulling on plays such as Aaron Rodgers' game-changing 36-yard strike to Jared Cook during the divisional round. Most importantly, the young guard missed little time, starting every game during the regular season and playoffs.

Because of Taylor's better-than-expected performance, Green Bay has little need to find an upgrade this offseason. Though he has less to prove in 2017 than this past season, Taylor finds himself in another contract year.

No. 67 Don Barclay

Experience: Five seasons
College: West Virginia
How acquired: Signed as an unrestricted free agent
2016 statistics: 16 game appearances, one start

Don Barclay's fifth season in Green Bay almost didn't happen. After a disastrous 2015, the team initially appeared to let Barclay depart as a free agent. Only weeks into April did the team bring him back on a one-year, $700,000 deal.

For that cost, Barclay played sparingly at guard and even started a game. However, his play regularly hurt the offense, forcing Spriggs into guard despite minimal experience at the position.

Barclay remains a favorite of the coaching staff, so perhaps he survives for another year with the team. Still, given his performance and the presence of so many young linemen, the time has probably arrived for him to depart.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. He covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.