In Day 1 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, here is a look at the interior offensive linemen. We include the guards and centers in the same story since the Packers, like most teams, want to use those players interchangeably.
Packers depth chart
Center: Evan Dietrich-Smith. Guards: Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Depth: center Garth Gerhart, guard Joe Gibbs, guard/center Greg Van Roten, tackle/guard Don Barclay.
Packers draft outlook
The Packers generally draft offensive tackles. On last year’s season-ending payroll, Lang, Dietrich-Smith, Barclay, Van Roten, Marshall Newhouse, Bryan Bulaga and Andrew Datko played left tackle in college, and Sitton and Gibbs played right tackle. The exceptions? Jeff Saturday and Gerhart were collegiate centers.
There isn’t a pressing need for the Packers to use a marquee pick for a guard or center. Lang and Sitton are quality guards — Sitton is considered a top-five guard while Lang was only so-so last season as he battled through an elbow injury and position change. The offense functioned well with Dietrich-Smith starting four games after the benching of Saturday.
Strength of draft class
The guard class is top-heavy, with Alabama’s powerful Chance Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper possible top-15 picks. A lot of college left tackles will fortify this group, especially from the small-college level. At center, it’s a split opinion between Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick and Cal’s Brian Schwenke.
Bottom of the first (round)
Syracuse’s Justin Pugh could be an option for the Packers if they think he can play left tackle despite short arms. Of course, that was the debate with Bulaga in 2010 and the Packers drafted him and never contemplated lining him up at guard over the long haul. Pugh charged up one scout’s draft board, he said, as his team became convinced he could play left tackle.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.