One of the more “under the rug” needs in Green Bay right now is the offensive line, which was ravaged by injuries a year ago.
While David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga make up one of the elite bookend pairings in the NFL, both of them missed time a year ago, with Bulaga eventually suffering his 2nd Torn ACL of his career. Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley are at worst very serviceable on the interior. With Jahri Evans’ one year contract now expired, a hole is open at right guard.
What are the options at right guard? Last year’s super sub Justin McCray is still on the roster and could be considered. Former second-round pick Jason Spriggs has underachieved in his brief playing time, but he has played right guard in the past. Lucas Patrick and Kofi Amichia are both also still on roster and could be considered, but are likely depth options at this point.
So now you’re thinking, “Owen, it sounds like there is some uncertainty with the future of the offensive line.” Uncertainty? Buddy,,,, you got that right. In my opinion Green Bay needs to add at least two offensive linemen in this class, not only to improve the quality of the depth the Packers have along the offensive line, but also to make sure that the attrition dealt with a year ago isn’t a possibility in 2018.
While we still have to see the course of action taken by new General Manager Brian Gutekunst, his moves thus far and every indication he’s given in interviews is that they will continue to follow the athleticism thresholds they have traditionally utilized at the position.
Since Ted Thompson took over prior to the 2005 NFL Draft, Green Bay has selected two players in the NFL Draft who were not college blind-side tackles. Those players are Corey Linsley in the 5th round in 2014 and Caleb Schlauderaff in the 6th round in 2011. Even guys who turned out to be Pro Bowl guards like T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were blind-side tackles in college (Sitton was a right tackle for a left handed quarterback).
While it’s never truly been posed as a question to the decision makers in Green Bay’s front office, it’s pretty clear they value the athleticism and pass protection that offensive tackles offer, no matter where they play on the offensive line in the NFL.
Tackles to Watch
Austin Corbett, Nevada - Nevada’s left tackle is seemingly a clone of one of the top left guards in the NFL and former Nevada left tackle Joel Bitonio. Corbett is likely headed inside in the NFL, and he’d be a Day 1 starter at right guard for Green Bay. Corbett’s stock has been climbing since the Senior Bowl, where he had a very solid performance. If Green Bay wants a chance, it’s likely at 45, because I don’t think he’ll be around at 76. Day 2
Desmond Harrison, West Georgia - Harrison will likely continue the tradition of a West Georgia player getting selected, as they’ve established themselves as one of the top Division II programs in the country. Harrison is a former top recruit and Texas Longhorn, but has been at multiple schools throughout his college career and his concerns come off of the field. If he has those buttoned up, he’s an NFL level talent. I think Harrison has the potential to be an above average NFL tackle. He weighed in at the Senior Bowl in the 270s, but didn’t practice due to an injury. He was 292 in Indianapolis, and I think he’ll play somewhere around 310, but he’s an elite athlete and will get drafted by a team who’s fine with his off-field. He may be gone, but Green Bay would have a happy fan in me, if they take him at Pick 76. Day 2
Alex Cappa, Humboldt State - Another Division II option, Cappa dominated his competition and parlayed that into a Senior Bowl invite. Catching on to the trend here? Cappa, in my opinion, is better served to play inside in the NFL due to his issues with lateral quickness. In a zone scheme like Green Bay’s, I think Cappa could be a pretty quick study and could be a starting guard in the NFL by year 2. (Editor’s note: his hair, seen above, would make him quite the pairing with David Bakhtiari, too.) Day 2
Jamil Demby, Maine - Demby is yet another Senior Bowl participant who played left tackle at Maine and who will most likely play guard in the NFL. I was told by a #source that Demby has a Day 3 grade from the Packers, and he fits what they like. Demby is better as a run blocker at this point, but is definitely someone to look at for a developmental spot along the offensive line. Day 3
Here is the interesting part. It’ll be very interesting to see if Brian Gutekunst #BelievesInCentersAndGuards. As I stated before, they have drafted two non-tackles in 12 years, and Schlauderaff never played a regular season game for Green Bay.
Braden Smith, Auburn - The lines are a bit blurred here. Smith ended his Auburn career at guard, but played tackle earlier in his collegiate playing days. Smith also has the big-time athleticism Green Bay looks for in its offensive linemen, as Smith had one of the more impressive performances in Indy by a guard in recent memory. Smith would be a Day 1 starter at right guard, and a good one. Were Smith to be selected by Green Bay at 45 or 76, a lot of questions would be answered moving forward about offensive line configurations.
Colby Gossett, Appalachian State - I’ll be the first person to admit I didn’t know a damn thing about Colby Gossett when I got down to Mobile for the Senior Bowl, but I was maybe more impressed with him than any prospect I saw down there after the three practices I witnessed. Gossett played right guard in a run-heavy offense in college, but his ability to anchor and sink his hips without bending at the waist in pass protection were enough to show me that he deserves a chance early on Day 3. Day 3
Scott Quessenberry, UCLA - Quessenberry was one of the more athletic interior linemen in Indianapolis, which confirmed what I saw from him in Mobile. May be considered a little light in the pants, but he’s a zone kid who’s light on his feet and can move side to side. He’ll need some time in an NFL weight room, but late in Day 3 Quessenberry would make some sense, athletically at least. Day 3
Nico Falah, USC - Falah played center for USC this season, and Green Bay had him in for a visit recently. Falah showed nice movement skills for an interior lineman at USC, and could be the Undrafted Free Agent type of player Green Bay has used their visits on during Thompson’s tenure as the GM in Green Bay. Day 3/UDFA