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Packers Position Battles: Right Guard will be a crucial competition to watch in 2018

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Who will emerge as the Packers’ starter at right guard this summer? We run down the potential candidates.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers will have a handful of notable battles for starting jobs during spring practices and training camp in 2018, and we’ll take a look at a few of them over the coming days. The first spot we will examine is the right guard position, which Jahri Evans manned for 14 games last season.

The Packers signed Evans to a one-year contract on the eve of the NFL Draft last spring following T.J. Lang’s departure for Detroit in free agency. However, Evans remains a free agent at this time and the team’s only significant addition on the offensive line this offseason has been a fifth-round draft pick.

There is a host of players who should make a run at the vacant starting right guard job this summer, however, so let’s take a look at the names in the running.

The Top Contenders

Justin McCray

McCray was arguably one of the Packers’ most valuable players last year, as he started eight games at three different positions: both guard spots and right tackle. At worst, he appears in line to be a versatile backup at multiple positions, but he is probably viewed as the early leader in the clubhouse for the right guard job.

Lucas Patrick

Patrick, who signed with the Packers after a rookie minicamp tryout in 2016, has gradually become a more consistent player for the Packers. After spending 2016 on the practice squad, the Duke product started one game each at left and right guard a season ago.

Cole Madison

A fifth-round pick in the NFL Draft just a few weeks ago, Madison is moving inside from the right tackle position that he manned at Washington State. Packers scouts praised his quick feet and athleticism after making him the 138th overall selection, and he will likely be in the competition for the open right guard job in his rookie training camp.

The Tackles

Kyle Murphy

Murphy started the season as the Packers’ starting right tackle due to a minor injury to Bryan Bulaga, then moved to the left side when David Bakhtiari was hurt in the season opener. Murphy himself was injured in week three and went on injured reserve. A former seventh-round pick from Stanford, Murphy has taken plenty of practice reps at guard and may be in the mix. However, with Bulaga being likely to miss some time early in the year due to his recovery from a torn ACL, Murphy may be called into action at tackle instead.

Jason Spriggs

Spriggs is unlikely to factor in heavily at guard this summer due to Bulaga’s absence as described above. He had a disastrous training camp last season that culminated in an injury that landed him on injured reserve for the first half of the year, returning late in the season to fill in for Bulaga (and doing so reasonably well). Spriggs did start a few games at guard in 2016, but is probably the top option at right tackle again this summer while Bulaga rehabs.

The Dark Horse

Kofi Amichia

One of the players who could factor into the competition is Amichia, a sixth-round pick in last year’s draft who spent 2017 on the practice squad. He’s a prototypical Packers lineman — an elite athlete for his position and a former blind-side tackle — who spent his rookie season learning the finer points of playing inside. Don’t be surprised if he pushes McCray, Patrick, and Madison this summer to earn at least a roster spot and perhaps a starting job.

UDFAs

The Packers have tended to bring undrafted free agent rookies along slowly on the offensive line, with Don Barclay being the only such player to start a game in his rookie year since 2010. Lane Taylor, now the team’s starting left guard, did not start a game until his third season.

Part of that is due to the Packers’ relatively good continuity on the offensive line overall, but the fact remains that undrafted rookie linemen rarely make any sort of impact in their first season. Therefore, although these players are on the 90-man roster at present, they are unlikely to factor heavily in the competition for the starting job in 2018.

Jacob Alsadek

Listed as a tackle/guard on the roster, Alsadek has excellent size at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds. However, he was a four-year starter at the right guard position, which could give him a bit of a leg up on players like Madison and Amichia, who are adjusting to new positions.

Alex Light

Like Alsadek, Light is also shown on the Packers’ roster as a tackle/guard, and he has experience at both positions in college. Although he is a little smaller than Alsadek, listed at 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds, that remains plenty big enough for the Packers’ tastes on the interior of the line.