Over the next two weeks, we will take a look at each position group on the Packers and provide grades and insight on how they performed in the 2014 season. Today, we'll be looking at the offensive line. Follow along with all of our positional breakdowns here.
The Packers offensive line looked a lot different in 2014 than it had a year before, though that was as much the result of Bryan Bulaga's return to health as it was new blood. The left tackle and both guards returned intact, as did the primary backups.
The lone exception came at center. The departed Evan Dietrich-Smith proved himself a capable starter during his time in Green Bay, but the front office and coaching staff challenged themselves to do better. They placed a heavy bet on 2013 fourth-round pick JC Tretter, and though injuries derailed their plans, an unheralded rookie managed to not only to hold down the center position but become the long-term answer there.
How acquired: Drafted in fifth round (161st overall)
Stats: 16 games, 2 sacks, 17 total pressures
Value: Purely in financial terms, Corey Linsley might be the best value on the Packers' roster. Though paid a late-round draft pick's salary, Linsley stepped into the lineup without any extended adjustment period. After his first few starts it became clear that the Ohio State product was more than a mere stopgap while Tretter recovered from a knee fracture. Linsley's lower body strength is evident in his run blocking, consistently opening up holes in the A Gap for Eddie Lacy. And while Linsley's pass protection was hit or miss early on, he steadily improved into a consistent performer by the end of the season. For his efforts, Linsley garnered All-Pro consideration, an impressive feat for any first-year offensive lineman. More importantly, Linsley appears has already developed a keen rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Some flaws are still evident in Linsley's game -- early snaps persisted into the playoffs -- but they should be ironed out over the next 12 months.