The Green Bay Packers have yet to figure out their starter at right guard, a spot vacated by T.J. Lang earlier this offseason. However, their star quarterback suggested during the start of the team’s offseason program that the eventual choice might already reside on the roster.
Presumably, the coaches have given Aaron Rodgers at least a cursory glimpse into what they foresee at right guard. When asked about how the team would fill the position, Rodgers named Don Barclay as well as second-year linemen Kyle Murphy and Lucas Patrick as contenders.
The inclusion of Barclay comes as little surprise. The Packers have long praised his versatility as a backup. Barclay has lined up at tackle, guard, and even center, albeit to varying results. Barclay signed a one-year deal to return to Green Bay and, at present, holds the pole position for the starting job.
Lucas Patrick, an undrafted free agent who made the Packers' practice squad coming out of the preseason, also makes sense as a candidate. He played and practiced primarily at guard last year, and the team has a track record developing undrafted linemen (Lane Taylor, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Barclay all started double-digit games with Green Bay). With a full offseason to further grow, Patrick could realistically battle for the starting job at some point this season.
However, Rodgers' inclusion of Murphy represents the most meaningful statement. A tackle by trade, Murphy doesn't cut the figure of a traditional guard in the Packers' offense. Still, combined with head coach Mike McCarthy's statements from the annual league meeting last month, Rodgers' comment strongly suggests that the team does indeed plan to move the 2016 sixth-round pick from tackle to guard.
While Rodgers downplayed the necessity of drafting more competition for Lang's old spot, the Packers could still decide to bring in another body during the 2017 NFL Draft. While not considered a great draft for offensive linemen due to the lack of left tackles, this year's class does include a variety of intriguing guard prospects. Especially in the middle rounds, Green Bay could end up selecting one.
Even if the Packers believe their next starting right guard already resides on the roster, the team appears likely to spend at least one draft pick addressing the offensive line next week. Taylor, the team's current starter at left guard, becomes a free agent next offseason as does starting center Corey Linsley. While Linsley could receive an extension before that time, Green Bay could allow Taylor to walk with an eye towards pushing a soon-to-be-drafted lineman into his spot.