Tretter Could Be Line's Swiss Army Knife

Tretter (Mike McGinnis - Getty)

Wherever he's needed, fourth-round pick J.C. Tretter could lend a helping hand for the Packers. A two-year starting left tackle at Cornell, Tretter played right tackle on Friday. His best spot ultimately might be guard, and he spent a couple weeks working with a former NFL center.

J.C. Tretter played right tackle at the Green Bay Packers' rookie camp on Friday. He might play left tackle on Saturday.

In preparing for the Senior Bowl, he worked at guard and even tutored under former NFL center Dave Wohlabaugh.

That's all five positions — with flexibility being a major asset for any young offensive lineman entering the league.

"Wherever the team needs me, that was my goal coming into the process," Tretter, the second of the Packers' three fourth-round picks, said before Friday's practice. "I wanted to be as versatile as possible, and whatever team picked me, I wanted to be able to fill whatever need they had. That was my goal and that's kind of the position I'm in right now, wherever the coaches feel my fit should be, I'll be ready to go."

A high school quarterback, Tretter spent his first two seasons at Cornell playing tight end. He made the move to left tackle for his final two seasons, earning all-Ivy League accolades both seasons and All-America honors as a senior.

At 6-foot-3 5/8 and with 33 3/8-inch arms, Tretter doesn't have ideal length to play left tackle in the NFL. While he could be an intriguing option at the Packers' vacant right tackle position, his ultimate appeal could be as an interior blocker due to his quickness and strength.

"You go through the process, you hear you're a guard, you're a center," Tretter said, "so then you just make sure you're ready because you don't know what team you're going to end up on, so you don't know what position you're going to end up playing, so you have to be ready for anything."

To learn some of the tricks of the trade at center, Tretter worked with former NFL center Wohlabaugh, who made 128 career starts from 1995 through 2003, for a couple of weeks.

"He had the same agent, so when I was going through the process, Alan Herman contacted him and said, ‘We've got a guy I really want you to work with,'" Tretter said. "Dave, who wanted to get back into the mentoring of young players, said ‘I'm totally in.' It just so happens that he's next-door neighbors with my uncle in Ohio. He came down to IMG (Academy in Bradenton, Fla.), where I was training, and worked with me, and he came over to Cornell for a little bit to train with me. It was a good fit."

Tretter was slated to play guard at the Senior Bowl with a little work at center. Instead, just before flying to Mobile, Ala., for the week of practices leading up to the game, he broke his nose during a one-on-one drill with Sheldon Richardson, the Jets' first-round pick.

It was a setback, with Tretter losing an opportunity to perform against the best of the best. However, he did win individual matchups against Princeton's Mike Catapano, who was drafted by the Chiefs, and Colombia's Josh Martin (free agent, Chiefs) and Brandon Copeland (undrafted, Penn) during the Ivy League season. Another Princeton player, Caraun Reid, is considered a prime draft prospect for 2014.

"(Princeton) had two NFL prospects and we knew we had to live up to it," Tretter said. "You take it personally when it's a one-on-one battle, as much as it's a team game. The trenches are where a game is won and you know if you can't handle it, the whole team is going to fall. I take a lot of pride in those type of games when you're going against another quality player."

He'll see nothing but quality players in the NFL. Obviously, Datone Jones and Clay Matthews are several notches above the likes of Catapano and Martin.

"The last chapter of that ended with the draft," Tretter said. "That was everything leading up to that. You have a couple days after the draft where you just kind of celebrate and sit back. And after that, you move on and it's the next chapter of your life and now all that work you put in to get drafted, you have to put two times that amount of work to get past this point and become a productive member of an NFL football team. That's really where I'm at right now."

A productive member who, if not a starter, can play anywhere along the line.

"I'll be ready for whatever they ask of me," Tretter said.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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