Wednesday, March 20, 2013

There Could Be Some Big Changes On The Offensive Line

With the glamorous part of free agency over, the rest of the signings should come occasionally between now and before the draft, most of the interesting talk will be about who the Green Bay Packers should select in the first round.

There are several areas the Packers need to improve in, but change at some positions is probably going to come from internal options. While they need better play at safety and outside linebacker, S Jerron McMillian and LB Nick Perry are going to be given the first opportunity to make those positions better.

But one position that could use some help in the draft is the offensive line. And today, Mike McCarthy was discussing the o-line with reporters:
By mentioning three positions (LT, LG, and C), he left open a world of possibilities.

Center is the position I've been thinking about for their late first round pick. There's no center with a first round grade, but there are a couple of good players I wouldn't mind seeing them reach for. At the top of the list is Alabama's C Barrett Jones, who's won the top awards in college at RG (first team All-SEC), LT (Outland trophy) and C (Rimington Award) as the best at three different positions in three consecutive seasons. I'm a little puzzled why he only has a second round grade, but recent foot surgery and playing the less important center position are probably the culprits.

Before last season, I thought they had the left guard position solidified with T.J. Lang. But a poor 2012 season, which the above quote from Mike McCarthy confirms, now opens the door. Are they expecting better from Lang? Could they draft a left guard and move him into a backup role (maybe release)? While I think they'll stick with Lang, the possibility should be considered.

LT Marshall Newhouse did improve in 2012, but he might have hit his ceiling. However, he seems like the least likely to go because he could still get better next season. They'll probably give Derek Sherrod a chance to return from injury and prove himself before they use another first round pick on a tackle. If Sherrod can bounce back and become the future left tackle they thought he was in 2011, Newhouse might be a good candidate to push Lang at the left guard position in 2014.

We should know the status of the offensive line pretty soon. The draft is happening next month and they'll probably open OTAs the summer with what I would expect to be the starting offensive line.


Unknown said...

IIRC the Packers tried Newhouse at LG a few years back in camp and were less than impressed. He's got tackle feet, which is good, but I don't think he's got the strength, anchor or attitude to play guard. Converting a finesse-based LT into a LG who will need to deal with power power power doesn't strike me as a recipe for success.

I'd like to think that Lang's issues last year revolved around position switches and injuries, and I'm not convinced that the Packers are likely to use a top pick on a center with so many higher priority positions in which to build depth. Schwenke from Cal in the 2nd or 3rd would be my preferred option if the Packers are convinced EDS can't do the job; otherwise they can draft a developmental guy later.

If they're reaching in the late first round I'd rather see them take a flier on someone like Justin Hunter than a center. ;-)

Brandon said...

I hadn't written about Schwenke yet, but his scouting report is really good. He won't be as highly hyped as Barrett Jones, and he's too much of a reach for the 1st round, but I'd have zero complaints if the Packers drafted him in the second round.