Final Grades: Offensive Line

Discussion in 'Green Bay Packer Football' started by Mark Eckel, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Mark Eckel

    Mark Eckel Guest

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    By BOB McGINN

    This is the third of a nine-part position-by-position series in which the 67 players on the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster and injured-reserve lists at the end of the season are graded. Playing-time percentages are from offense and defense only.

    OFFENSIVE LINE (12)

    DAVID BAKHTIARI (72.0%): The arc of Bakhtiari’s career is reflected in his total of pressures, which is defined here as the combination of sacks, knockdowns and hurries allowed. Starting with his rookie season of 2013, he has yielded 37, 33, 17, 19 and 17 ½ pressures in 2017. Part of the decline this season was due to reduced playing time. A hamstring injury cost him about 300 snaps this year. More to the point, he’s become bigger, stronger and generally better at his craft each year. Bakhtiari (6-4 ½, 315) lacks aircraft-carrier size for the position, which can be slightly limiting when measured against the great ones. He is light on his feet, tenacious, technique-oriented and confident. His career totals for “bad” runs (defined as runs for 1 yard or less excluding successful short-yardage and goal-line plays) also reflect improvement. Beginning with 2013, his totals are 15 ½, 19 ½, eight, nine and six in 2017. A good comparable for Bakhtiari is Matt Light (6-4 ½, 310), a second-round pick with a good Wonderlic score (28, Bakhtiari’s was 25) who started 153 games at LT for New England from 2001-’11 and made one Pro Bowl. Grade: A-minus.

    BRYAN BULAGA (22.2%): His future will be a hot topic of discussion leading up to the start of free agency and the league year on March 14. When the Packers re-signed Bulaga for five years on the eve of free agency in 2015 they gambled he could put injuries behind him. Alas, he couldn’t. In 2016, injuries forced Bulaga to leave four games but he did manage to play all 16 for just the second time in his career. This year, he missed three games with an ankle injury and then the last eight with a second torn ACL. He has now missed 46 games in seven seasons due to injury. What do the Packers do with Bulaga and his remaining base salaries of $5.85 million in 2018 and $5.8M in ’19? They probably bring him back because Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs suffered major injuries, too, and aren’t even close to being as good. This offense has operated much more efficiently when Bulaga was in the lineup. When Bulaga did play this season, he was so-so. Grade: C-minus.

    DILLON DAY (0.0%): Plucked off Denver’s practice squad with 10 days left in the season. Entered the NFL as undrafted rookie with the Broncos in 2015. He has spent three games on 53-man rosters, including one with Denver and two with Indianapolis this season, but has never played a down. He’ll be reunited with Joe Philbin, the Colts’ offensive line coach this year. Day (6-4, 296, 5.23) started 46 of 51 games at center for Mississippi State from 2011-’14. In early 2015, he scored 19 on the Wonderlic, bench-pressed just 23 times, had 33 ¾-inch arms and small hands 9 1/8. “Quality backup,” said one scout. “Technician. Little small, but he makes up for it with his hands and feet.” Grade: Incomplete.

    JAHRI EVANS (87.1%): The Packers caught a break when Evans, at age 34 and in his 12th season, was able to play every snap for 14 games before a bad knee shut him down for Games 15-16. His first and presumably only season in Green Bay epitomized stopgap. Way late on the trigger, GM Ted Thompson was lucky Evans remained available the day before the draft and that he accepted $2.25 million for one year. Evans’ halcyon days in New Orleans are long gone. He remained combative. He tried to win by engulfing defenders with his mass. Size was his primary attribute. Evans led the team in pressures allowed (28 ½) and “bad” runs (15 ½). If the quarterback was knocked down, he cared and helped him up. One reason why the screen game suffered was Evans’ lack of speed and agility. It seemed at times as if Evans was short-circuiting against stunts and movement, but his miscues were due more to an inability to move laterally, bend and pick people up. If the Packers need another band-aid, they could do worse than even the 35-year-old Evans. Grade: D-plus.

    ULRICK JOHN (3.8%): When multiple tackles went down John was signed off the Cardinals’ practice squad on Sept. 26. Two weeks later more injuries left him as the last man standing at RT for the final 32 snaps against the Vikings in Minneapolis. It was a turkey (sack) shoot, to say the least, with John yielding three of his four pressures to veteran Brian Robison. His other eight snaps came as an extra tight end. He’s not a bad athlete but his strength limitations were evident. John has been around (four clubs) and does have long arms (34 ½), but no team would ever count on him. Grade: D-minus.

    COREY LINSLEY (100%): He was the only player on the roster to play all of his platoon’s snaps. Linsley is far more than just a snap-eater, of course, which is why management gave him a three-year, $25.5 million extension on Dec. 30. He isn’t knocking people around much but makes sound decisions and runs a solid line. Conscientious and competent, Linsley recognizes defenses and usually makes quick, proper adjustments. He isn’t an explosive run blocker. He had a career-high total of 15 “bad” runs, up from 8 ½ last year. He does get outmanned at times against big men, and he isn’t a top athlete, either. He is relatively quick, understands leverage, effectively down blocks on gap plays and very seldom just flat misses in one-on-one protection. Just one-half of his 14 ½ pressures was a sack. He helps the guards by looking for work in pass pro. Grade: B.

    JUSTIN McCRAY (56.7%): He might have been the biggest surprise of the season. Thompson signed him off the street March 29 after two failed trials in Tennessee and a stint in indoor football. The Titans told me he was a great kid but just didn’t move well enough. A guard by trade, he beat out draft pick Kofi Amichia and talented Canadian Geoff Gray by going the distance at center in the exhibition finale to prove his versatility. McCray ended up playing four positions although center wasn’t one of them. His snap counts were 32 at LT, 130 at LG, one at RG, 422 at RT and nine at TE. He deserved admiration for maximizing his ability. A limited athlete, he moved his feet well enough to survive outside and used his strength (32 reps on the bench) and bulk to hold up inside. Regardless of the position, McCray kept his cool, applied his intelligence (Wonderlic of 30) and performed functionally. Not that he didn’t have a slew of awful plays, especially in protection. He did, allowing 28 pressures, second most behind Evans. His 5.5 40 didn’t help the screen game, either. His “bad” run total of five, however, was impressive. Bad body or not, McCray came through when the Packers needed it most. Grade: C.

    KYLE MURPHY (21.8%): Promising second-year tackle was cut down by a season-ending foot injury in late September. Making his first start on opening day at RT against DEs Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett of Seattle, Murphy struggled but never to the point of embarrassment. Moving to LT the next Sunday in Atlanta, he held up better than expected against DEs Adrian Clayborn and Takk McKinley. He played all 70 snaps the next week against Cincinnati, allowing four of his five pressures to rookie Carl Lawson. Two were sacks as Lawson destroyed him inside. At some point, Murphy suffered the foot damage that was reported the next day and ended his season. Feet, balance, athleticism and intelligence (Wonderlic of 29) are his best traits. However, he must get a lot stronger. Grade: C-minus.

    ADAM PANKEY (0.0%): Three days after the opener the Packers cut DT Ricky Jean Francois and promoted Pankey from the practice squad. He proceeded to be inactive 10 times in 15 games, logging one snap on special teams in the finale. At 6-4 ½ and 313, Pankey probably is better suited for guard than tackle. In August, he did flash enough promise to be in the mix at several positions next season. He has large hands (10 5/8), solid arm length (34), enough intelligence (Wonderlic of 22) and three years of experience starting at LT and LG for West Virginia. Grade: Incomplete.

    LUCAS PATRICK (21.7%): Depending what happens in the draft and free agency Patrick might have a shot to start at RG in his third season. After opening his rookie season on the practice squad, Patrick somewhat surprisingly made the team and ended up playing 93 snaps at LG and 134 at RG. He played well against Chicago and the second Minnesota game, was so-so in the first Minnesota game and finished poorly in Detroit. At some point Patrick came up with a damaged right hand that forced him to play Games 15-16 with a large protective club. He suffered a major hand injury as a rookie, too. Patrick basically tries to kill people. He barges around, mauling and brawling in high-energy style. He’s a better athlete than McCray but isn’t as brawny. He allowed too many pressures (nine) but just one “bad” run. Grade: D-plus.

    JASON SPRIGGS (26.6%): Made minimal, if any progress in his second season after an awful rookie year. This second-round draft choice needs to avail himself of his third-year chance or that will be all she wrote. Spriggs missed nine games with a hamstring injury suffered blocking for an extra point on his first play of the season. Upon his return he couldn’t have played worse in 22 snaps off the bench Nov. 19 against the Ravens. Went the distance at RT in Games 11-14 before suffering a season-ending dislocated kneecap in Game 15. After displaying some improvement in Games 11-12, he was terrible in Cleveland and fell apart in the fourth quarter in Carolina. It’s as if the athleticism that he had coming out of Indiana is in remission. He bends at the waist, loses his balance and can’t seem to protect the inside. As a run blocker, he’s inconsistent coming off the ball, following assignments and sustaining. Spriggs finished with 17 pressures, three more than last year, and seven “bad” runs, one-half less than in 2016. Grade: F.

    LANE TAYLOR (89.7%): Improved in his second season as a starter. Played way out of position at LT against Chicago and Dallas but found a way to make it work and the Packers went 2-0. It was remarkable to see him functioning on an island given his short arms (31 ¾) and marginal athletic ability. Taylor’s a get-it-done type of guy. He’s tough, hard-nosed and won’t ever lay down. He shouldn’t be effective as a pull blocker but at the end of the season he was the team’s best puller. He puts his big, thick body to work covering up defenders. Uses his large mitts (10 3/8) to assist him in a hands-outside style of pass blocking. Allowed 21 ½ pressures, seven fewer than a year ago, and nine “bad” runs, four fewer than in 2016. Penalized five times last season, Taylor didn’t have any this season. The last starting O-lineman in Green Bay to go through a season without an accepted penalty was C Scott Wells in 2008. Grade: B-minus.

    The post Final Grades: Offensive Line appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

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  2. Terranimal

    Terranimal Member

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    Another failed area by TT. Most of thought/ knew we couldn't keep both Sitton and Lang and knew Bulaga needed to be replaced. But instead we lost both Pro Bowl Guards and kept an declining/injury prone Bulaga when RT are usually easier to find and can be had in mid rounds and later in the draft.

    Keeping the Franchise QB protected is job #1! We went from one of the best O-Lines to one of the worst.

    So while everyone has their wish lists for Defensive players and Offensive weapons, don't be surprised to see the O-Line addressed in maybe both FA and draft.
     
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  3. TW

    TW Moderator

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    It could be the first thing addressed on the offensive side. I wouldn't be a bit surprised it it happened in the first or second round, if the right guy was out there.
     
  4. 57packer

    57packer 2017 Draft Guru

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    Well, in TT's defense, cutting Sitton was probably a good move. Taylor has been effective and Sitton has been somewhat injury prone. Also, he did address RT - Spriggs and Murphy. Now, the fact that Spriggs has flopped and Murphy got hurt are mostly bad luck. Most fans including folks here were pretty happy with those picks.

    I will agree that the screw-up in all this was Lang AND Trettor last spring. He had to keep one or the other. Losing both was just plain irresponsible.
     
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  5. Crease Creature

    Crease Creature Lifetime Member

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    Those are basically some of the nicest things you can ever say to/about an offensive lineman.
     
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  6. TW

    TW Moderator

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    If you're looking for some athleticism on the offensive line, drafting a guy like Billy Price out of Ohio State, would give you that. I know he can play both center and guard, not sure if he has the footwork and strength for tackle. At least he'd be someone who could be a multi position back up, and future starter.

    I wonder how long he'll stay on the board.
     
  7. UWSP 88

    UWSP 88 Member

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    I think Billy Price has a first round grade, but I would expect him to go in the mid second. He will not be there for our third pick.
     
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