APC’s countdown of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster is drawing to a close, as we have just the final two players to reveal. The names in the top two should be no surprise to any fans who have followed along with our countdown or with the team over the past few years.
In fact, the player ranked second on our countdown was named the best player at his position in the entire league a year ago. earning first-team All-Pro honors. With three All-Pro honors in all under his belt, he has become one of the steadiest and most complete offensive linemen in the NFL despite a modest draft pedigree.
2. David Bakhtiari, left tackle
If this were a ranking of beer-chugging ability, David Bakhtiari would clearly be ranked #1 on the team. Of course, he does so much more than just crush beers at basketball games. Bakhtiari is one of the best — perhaps the best — success stories of the Packers’ draft-and develop philosophy under Ted Thompson.
In 2013, Bakhtiari was a lightly-regarded fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Colorado, slated to back up Bryan Bulaga at left tackle as the veteran moved over from the right side. Then Bulaga tore an ACL at Family Night and Bakhtiari stepped in with the ones at the very next practice. He took control of the position and since then he has started 97 of a possible 104 regular season and playoff games.
Beloved by Packers fans and the analytics community alike, Bakhtiari’s pass blocking is second to none at the tackle position. He consistently leads tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grading as well as their more valuable stats like pass-blocking efficiency, which evaluates players based on hits and pressures allowed in addition to sacks given up.
Oddly, however, he tends to get more recognition from the media than his own fellow players. Bakhtiari has been named an All-Pro three times (second-team in 2016 and 2017 and first-team in 2018) but has only made one Pro Bowl (2016). As a result, he is the poster child for the silliness of the current Pro Bowl selection process.
With his current contract expiring after the 2020 season, Bakhtiari is sure to be one of the Packers’ top priorities for an extension after the 2019 campaign wraps up. He will turn just 28 years old this September, and has had no significant, lasting injuries in his career. As a result, he looks likely to maintain his elite level of play for the foreseeable future and to be the rare Packer who will earn a third contract with the team.