Derek Sherrod can thank Ted Thompson for sparing him a long, long wait until the Part 2 of the NFL Draft begins on Friday evening.
Sherrod can repay Thompson by joining Bryan Bulaga in providing superior pass protection for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, just like Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher did for Brett Favre the previous decade.
The Green Bay Packers selected Sherrod, an offensive tackle from Mississippi State, with the 32nd and last selection of the first round of the draft on Thursday.
“It was a little bit of a long wait, but it was a very good wait because I’m very happy with the pick,” Sherrod said during a conference call with reporters at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
Sherrod was a target for Thompson, the Packers’ general manager, all along, sources had told Packer Report over the last week and we reported on Thursday morning.
Sherrod (6-foot-5 3/8, 321 pounds; he’ll wear No. 78) didn’t allow a sack in earning All-American honors as a junior and senior, and was the standout blocker for one of the nation’s top running games. He delivered the key block on 20 of the team’s 28 rushing touchdowns as a senior.
“I’m an all-around guy,” he said. “I think I can do everything. I don’t give up sacks, I take pride in not letting anybody even touch my quarterback (or) get near my quarterback. I’ve been in a very successful run program at Mississippi State, so I know how to run block, and I’m a very intelligent, athletic offensive lineman so I can get down the field and get on the defender and block him.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin commended Sherrod for his quickness off the ball and balance. While Mississippi State didn’t run a Packers-style zone blocking scheme, Sherrod did enough pulling and moving to make the team feel comfortable he’d fit. Philbin pointed to Sherrod’s game against Alabama and consistent performances in the rugged SEC.
“It’s always good to catch a lineman playing a road game in a hostile environment to see if he can get off on the cadence,” Philbin said.
Beyond the impressive football resume, Sherrod was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy – aka the Academic Heisman – and was one of 16 players nationwide to win the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Award, which includes an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.
“It’s not mandatory but it’s certainly a plus,” Thompson said of Sherrod’s intangibles. “Our offensive linemen, as a rule, are pretty smart guys. He’s a very bright guy, very articulate.”
For years, Clifton and Tauscher protected Favre at such an elite level that they almost always were left one-on-one, regardless of who they were facing. That opened up the passing game with four-and five-man routes. With last year’s first-round pick, Bulaga, and Sherrod, the Packers theoretically have Clifton-Tauscher, Part 2.
In the short term, where Sherrod fits is a question mark. Clifton presumably will return at left tackle and Bulaga played extremely well at right tackle down the stretch as the Packers made their run to the Super Bowl. Potentially, Bulaga moves to left guard – where incumbent starter Daryn Colledge is a free agent -- and Sherrod plays right tackle. Neither Thompson nor Philbin would answer the who-plays-where question. Sherrod, however, said he’s comfortable playing on the right side, where he was a reserve as a freshman.
“We’ll get Derek here, whenever that is, and start working with him,” Philbin said “We’ll figure out all those pieces, how it all fits together, as we get to know him a little bit better.”
The second and third rounds will be held on Friday, beginning at 5 p.m. Central. The Packers have the 64th and last pick of the second round and the 96th selection of the third round.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.