Marshall Newhouse started every game at left tackle in 2012, giving up 12 sacks. File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Once again this year, Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky will provide a pre-draft breakdown of the Packers’ roster at each position heading into the April 25-27 NFL draft.
Here’s the position schedule:
April 10: Defensive line
April 11: Linebackers
April 12: Defensive backs
Today: Offensive line
April 14: Running backs
April 15: Receivers
April 16: Tight ends
April 17: Quarterbacks
April 18: Special teams
What they have: Bryan Bulaga (T), Marshall Newhouse (T), Don Barclay (T), Derek Sherrod (T), Andrew Datko (T), Evan Dietrich-Smith (C/G), T.J. Lang (G), Josh Sitton (G), Greg Van Roten (G/C), Kevin Hughes (T), Garth Gerhart (C), Joe Gibbs (G).
Position analysis: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending hip injury in Week 9 forced the Packers to shuffle some things up front. After moving T.J. Lang from left guard to right tackle for three starts, the Packers finished the season with undrafted rookie Don Barclay at right tackle. He held up surprisingly well. It could allow the Packers to move Bulaga to left tackle, something they have previously resisted. Newhouse started every game at left tackle but was inconsistent. He gave up 12 sacks in 18 games after giving up 12 ˝ in 14 games in 2011. Said coach Mike McCarthy recently: “Marshall played OK. We need some improvement from the left side of our line. That’s, if you’re breaking down the line as a whole, our left side and the center position, we need improvement there. I thought Josh Sitton probably had his best year. And frankly, Bulaga and Barclay at right tackle with Josh was we felt a good combination. We need to get the left side to play better.” Sitton had another solid year at right guard. Evan Dietrich-Smith replaced veteran Jeff Saturday at center in Week 16, and it proved to be an upgrade. Dietrich-Smith enters the offseason as the projected starting center, although Van Roten could provide some competition. Another wild-card is Sherrod, who missed all of last season because of the broken leg he sustained in December 2011. Datko, a seventh-round draft pick, spent his rookie year developing on the practice squad. Gibbs and Gerhart finished the season on the practice squad, while Hughes was signed after the season.
The future: Much of this depends on Sherrod’s health. If they think he can come back from his injury and compete with Newhouse, then they may not have to address the tackle spot high in the draft. Or perhaps they think Datko can provide that. But general manager Ted Thompson has taken at least one offensive lineman in each of his previous eight drafts with the Packers and a total of 15 in those eight years.