Count me as one of the many people who think who desperately need help on our offensive line. I do like Bulaga as our RT, but when we drafted him I figured he would end up going to LT, but he's done so well on the right side I think that the Packers and TT might be hesitant to move him somewhere else and shake his confidence. I also think that we are strong at Guard with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Lang needs to be able to stay at guard because our depth behind that is weak, and Lang is not a strong offensive tackle. After that we come to a whole bunch of question marks. Last year our other starters on the line were LT-Marshall Newhouse, and C-Jeff Saturday. Saturday is no longer on the team with us. That's not necessarily a complaint, because he was awful last year and was benched at the end of the year, a pro bowl nod, because no one knows any Centers, but he was bad. Newhouse is not a starting LT in the NFL. He simply has not moved well enough for us to continue thinking he is a long term solution at LT, and should not start there for the 2013 season. Last year in the game against the Seahawks alone, we gave up 8 sacks. 4 to Chris Clemons, 2 a piece to Bruce Irvin & Brandon Mebane. Putting the fail mary aside, we should not give up 8 sacks in a game, and that really hurt our chances. Our other offensive lineman include the following: Don Barclay, Andrew Datko, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Garth Gerhart, Joe Gibbs, Kevin Hughes, Derek Sherrod, and Greg Van Roten. Barclay started four games for us last year and was relatively decent, but not up to the standards we would hope to achieve on our line. He also had 2 postseason starts. Datko was on the practice squad all of last year, if he's an improvement I'll take him on the team this year. EDS is a player that the Packers will keep because we like to rotate him in and out offensively and can play Guard and Center. Gerhart was on the Browns practice squad last season and was signed in January. Signed Gibbs from the UFL last season to the practice squad. Hughes was a practice squad player for the Chargers (2012) and Rams (2011). Then we have the enigma that is Derek Sherrod. As a rookie he came in and started to play LT and develop his skills because of an injury to Clifton. Broke his leg against Kansas City, hasn't been back healthy since. And that was from December 2011, tough to count on him back 100% to start this fall. Then there is Greg Van Roten, who played some but didn't start a game in our wacky offensive line that we had this past season. Since free agency is basically picked clean. Let's look at who the Packers might have as options in the draft.
First, I'm fairly certain that all of the major offensive lineman that I would love are going to be gone at pick 26, and I don't think Ted Thompson will trade up for Joeckel, Fisher, Johnson, Warmack, or Cooper. Fluker is probably off of the board too. So that means the best players at the position will already be gone, the same as when we drafted Bulaga (24), and Newhouse (32), both in the first round.
As of right now. The only person who has us taking an offensive lineman in the first round is Charlie Campbell who works over at Walter football. That pick would be used to draft Menelik Watson (OT Florida State, 6'5" 310 lbs, 34" arm). As you can tell, his size is quite impressive. This sounds like someone who should be off of the board before we pick, but the problem is that he has very little football experience. He has played two seasons, 1 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and then at Florida State, where he started 12 games as a right tackle. The only reason I would accept drafting Watson is if we are playing Bulaga at LT, because he has much more experience, and playing Barclay at RT while Watson learns the position. Those are some risky moves when you can get someone to play immediately with the first round pick. Watson is also 24, which means that he will not have as much time in the league as someone who is younger. He doesn't particularly blow me away, and the only way I think we will draft him is if we trade down into round two and get another pick from early this draft.
Next up is Barrett Jones from Alabama, a 2nd round option as listed by Rob Warner over at fftoolbox.com. Jones is coming off of a lisfranc injury from this past season. He won the Rimington trophy (Best Center) in 2012, and the Outland trophy (Best Interior Lineman) in 2011. He is 6'4", 306 lbs. Because of the injury Jones did not participate at the combine. He is smart, finished his degree at Alabama in accounting in just 3 years. Also, one thing that the NFL draft profile for his does is compare him to Daryn Colledge. He could be a long time Center for us, which would be amazing, but I think his injury probably projects him into lower rounds, as he has prior medical issues as well. I don't want to use a 2nd rounder on him, but would be fine with 3rd or 4th, because of those issues. Last time the Packers drafted a Center, we drafted Scott Wells in the 7th round of the 2004 NFL draft. I hope we get Barrett, but we won't take him too early.
Later round potential:
Brian Schwenke C-Cal 6'3" 314 lbs. Currently seen as a fourth rounder over at Walter Football by Walter himself. One issue that we could potentially have with Brian is he is a true Center, and doesn't give us multiple options like Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson have done with their offensive lineman lately. But the Packers have had issues at Center, so Schwenke in the 4th round could be a major solution. My favorite thing from the combine drills is that he had a great 3 cone drill, putting up a time of 7.31.
Khaled Holmes C-USC 6'4" 305 lbs. Not a whole lot out there on this kid. Started on the interior for the past 3 seasons on the offensive line. He was a finalist for the Rimington (Barrett Jones won) and played at Center at USC for the past two years. He was hurt (strained pectoral muscle) doing the bench press for the combine. I'm not terribly sold on him when there are better options, but projected to be a 4th-5th rounder at this time.
Brian Winters G-Kent State 6'4" 315 lbs. He played LT in college, but because of short arms is expected to make the move inside. That means he should be more athletic, and at his pro day he did spend some time under center also. Winters also strained a pectoral muscle at the combine. Apparently the Steelers, Giants & Ravens all sent coaches to his pro day.
I'll be completely honest, if it was up to me, we would draft Barrett Jones, even if it involves moving around to get him. Jones has good size, played multiple positions in college, and if the only question mark is medical history, then I can deal with that. I'm just not sold on some of the later prospects, especially since the Packers shy away from guys who can only do one thing. But like I was saying earlier, we definitely need to do something to improve.