The Green Bay Packers used the first of their two fourth-round draft picks on Colorado’s David Bakhtiari, the best left tackle prospect remaining on the board.
Bakhtiari (6-4, 299), a junior entrant, had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine. He was the seventh-ranked offensive tackle entering the draft, according to our scouting sources.
The Packers added a second offensive lineman later in the fourth round with Cornell’s J.C. Tretter.
Football runs in the family for Bakhtiari. An older brother, Andrew, was a reserve rush end at the University of San Diego from 2008 through 2011. Another brother, Eric, played defensive end for the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers (2012) and was a three-time All-American and USD’s career sacks leader. An uncle, Dan Jackson, played quarterback at California.
Bakhtiari is one of the few bright spots for a Colorado program that has come on hard times in recent years. Another coaching change at the end of his third season in the lineup prompted the left offensive tackle to leave school early and declare for the 2013 NFL Draft.
While the Buffs haven't been the consistent producer of NFL talent, Bakhtiari follows in the footsteps of Nate Solder (New England Patriots) and Ryan Miller (Cleveland Browns), former Colorado standouts selected in the first and fifth rounds of the 2011 and 2012 drafts, respectively. With three years of starting experience under his belt, the junior is well-versed in the pro-set offense, along with the spread formation.
What Bakhtiari offers a professional team is a well-built athlete with a tireless work ethic, one that his coaches call a “gym rat” that usually has to be chased out of the training room late at night. It was common on campus for the offensive lineman to “lock up the facility,” as the coaches would simply hand him the keys, tell him to “turn the lights out” and they would then head home hours before Bakhtiari would.
“You have to have the athleticism to play on the outside,” he said, “and I think I have the athleticism to play on the outside but I have the leverage to play inside.”
He put up good numbers in the 40 (5.09) and bench (28 reps) at the Combine. Along with that athleticism, Bakhtiari’s personal scouting report includes words like “aggression” and “finishes plays.” More than that, he spoke of his maturity.
“A lot of scouts asked me (why he left school early),” Bakhtiari told Packer Report at the Combine. “The biggest point was I thought I was mentally mature enough to take on the next step. I wanted to make this my career. I wanted to treat it like a full-time job and I wanted to be surrounded by guys who this was also their job. The big key someone told me is if you decide to go to the next level, you’re going to be taking a grown man’s job and steady income away from a working man. I understand that.”
Bakhtiari has been compared to San Francisco’s veteran left tackle, Joe Staley, who played a key role in the 49ers’ divisional playoff victory against Green Bay with a gutty performance against Clay Matthews. On Twitter on Friday, Staley said Bakhtiari would be a “steal” in the second round.
“My (position) coach (at Colorado), Steve Marshall, he gave us a little scouting report to do on players he thought most resembled us,” Bakhtiari explained. “I always liked the way Joe Staley played and I was fortunate enough that he picked the same guy that I felt that I had marked my game after. He’s got good feet, plays with good leverage. He’s not the tallest guy but he’s got long limbs, plays to the whistle. He’s a really good guy.”
After redshirting in 2009, Bakhtiari was thrown into the fire at right tackle in 2010, starting 11 games while playing in all 12. He earned All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention from the Associated Press after producing an 89.8 percent grade for blocking consistency, the second-best mark on the team, behind Solder (94.3 percent).
In 2011, Bakhtiari took over Solder’s vacant left offensive tackle spot and was recognized as a second-team all-Pac 12 Conference performer. He was also named to the College Football News Sophomore All-American squad. He suffered a severe knee sprain on the seventh play of the season opener vs. Hawaii that would sideline him for the Buffs’ next two games before returning to the lineup for the rest of the schedule. He again finished second on the team with an 84.4 percent blocking consistency grade.
While Colorado struggled through yet another poor season in 2012, which ultimately led to the firing of head coach Jon Embree, Bakhtiari again was a bright spot with second-team All-Pac-12 Conference honors. He led the conference offensive tackles with 94 knock-downs, despite playing for a team that ranked 116th in the nation and last in the Pac-12 with an average of 302.75 yards per game in total offense.
Tretter was a high school quarterback who lined up at tight end as a freshman and sophomore in 2009 and 2010. He moved to left tackle for the final two seasons and was first-team all-Ivy League both seasons and an All-American as a senior by the NFL Draft Report.
Cornell has produced just seven offensive linemen that have been selected by an NFL team since the inception of the draft. Since the old American Football League merged with the National Football League in the late 1960s, only two Big Red offensive linemen have played in the league – Kevin Boothe, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 draft by the Oakland Raiders before joining the New York Giants in 2007, where he presently starts for the Big Blue. The other player to enjoy an NFL career was center Greg Bloedorn, a free agent who signed with Seattle in 1996 and played for the Seahawks until 2001.
In 2012, Tretter dominated from his left tackle position. With 120 knockdowns and 13 touchdown-resulting blocks in 10 games, he was rapidly gaining the attention of pro scouts. He was selected for the Senior Bowl but didn’t play because of a broken nose sustained at practice.