Analyzing the Packers' options at tackle
August, 5, 2013
By Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, we took a look at the Green Bay Packers’ top three options at right tackle.
Now that left tackle Bryan Bulaga has been declared out for the season with a torn ACL, those three options may have to be spread over both tackle positions, barring a roster move.
Now what coach Mike McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen must figure out is which player belongs where.
One thing has become clear: Rookie David Bakhtiari will play one of those two spots. He had been pushing -- and already may have passed -- Marshall Newhouse in the right tackle competition. Newhouse was the starting left tackle the past two seasons, but his up-and-down play was part of the reason McCarthy moved Bulaga from right tackle this offseason.
The question now is what to do with Bakhtiari? He played left tackle at Colorado and has split time at the two tackle positions in training camp. But it’s a lot to ask a rookie to start on the left side, which must protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side.
The Packers could move Newhouse back to the left side. After all, they went 11-5 last season with him as the full-time starter there, despite the fact that he allowed 10 sacks last season, according to STATS.
Don Barclay, the other candidate for the right tackle job, also has been taking reps at guard and center, and the Packers hope he will develop into their utility lineman. Barclay started six games last season at right tackle after Bulaga sustained a season-ending hip injury. Barclay was serviceable, but the Packers went into the offseason hoping for an upgrade.
Derek Sherrod would have been a natural fit for left tackle, but he remains on the physically unable to perform list because of the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011. Sherrod, the Packers’ first-round pick in 2011, was selected to be the left tackle of the future. Together with Bulaga, a first-round pick in 2010, he would have given the Packers two top draft picks anchoring their offensive line.
The pedigree of their remaining tackles is far less impressive. Bakhtiari was a fourth-round pick this year. Newhouse was a fifth-round pick in 2010, and Barclay was an undrafted free agent in 2011. The other tackles currently in training camp are street free agent Kevin Hughes and 2011 seventh-round pick Andrew Datko. Both are long shots to make the roster.
One of the Packers’ goals this offseason was to solidify Rodgers’ protection after signing him to a five-year, $110 million contract extension. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Rodgers has been sacked more times (118) in the past three seasons than any quarterback.