Position analysis: In 2010 and 2011, the Packers used their first-round pick on an offensive tackle. After deciding not to pick up the fifth-year option on 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod on Saturday, the Packers will see both 2010 first-round pick Bryan Bulaga and Sherrod head into unrestricted free agency after this season. The Packers have gotten next to nothing out of Sherrod, who finally was activated to the 53-man roster late last year from the physically unable to perform list after a horrific 2011 broken leg that sidelined him for nearly two full years. Bulaga, meanwhile, is coming off of back-to-back seasons that ended prematurely for him, landing on injured reserve with a hip injury midway through the 2012 season and on IR a week into training camp last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Bulaga has been informed that he’ll work at his old spot at right tackle after David Bakhtiari came through at left tackle with a solid season as a rookie fourth-round pick last year. With Marshall Newhouse, a former starter at left tackle, leaving via free agency, Don Barclay is the only other tackle on the roster with experience.
Inside, while guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang each have long-term deals and are entrenched as starters, the center spot is in flux after Evan Dietrich-Smith was allowed to walk in unrestricted free agency. That means the team will have its fourth starting center in four opening days when they kick it off on Sept. 4 at Seattle. The odds-on favorite is JC Tretter, who essentially took a medical redshirt last year after breaking his ankle in the first organized team activity practice of the spring after being drafted in the fourth round from Cornell.
Draft strategy: Packers general manager Ted Thompson has a spotty history on offensive linemen, but he’s always drafted in bulk. Of his nine drafts, only twice has he failed to take at least two offensive linemen. In 2007, he took only Allen Barbre in the fourth round; in 2012, he took only Andrew Datko in the seventh. Otherwise, it’s been at least two linemen each year: Sherrod (first round, No. 32) and guard Caleb Schlauderaff (sixth round) in 2011; Bulaga (first round. No. 23) and Newhouse (fifth round) in 2010; Lang (fourth round) and Jamon Meredith (fifth round) in 2009; Sitton (fourth round) and Breno Giacomini (fifth round) in 2008; Daryn Colledge (second round), Jason Spitz (third round) and Tony Moll (fifth round) in 2006; and Junius Coston (fifth round) and Will Whitticker (seventh round) in 2005. Last year, he took two in the fourth round – Bakhtiari, who was a godsend after Bulaga’s injury, and Tretter, who is in line to start at a vital position.
Next: Defensive line.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.