Green Bay Packers tackle J.C. Tretter during rookie orientation camp practice in the Don Hutson Center on Friday. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
J.C. Tretter, one of the Green Bay Packers’ two fourth-round draft picks on the offensive line this year, is playing right tackle at their rookie minicamp but still could end up an interior offensive lineman.
Tretter (6-foot-4, 307 pounds) started at left tackle for Cornell the last two years, but the Packers drafted him knowing there was a strong possibility they’d eventually move him to guard or perhaps even center. But with prospects who played tackle in college, NFL teams often initially work them at tackle just to see if they can play there at an NFL level before moving them inside.
“All I know is they’re going to move me around a little bit and see where I fit best,” Tretter said. “I’m just learning all the positions and I’ll go from there.”
Teams told Tretter there’s a good chance he’ll be an interior lineman in the NFL, so in his offseason training he supplemented work at tackle by learning techniques to play guard and center from former NFL center Dave Wohlabaugh. Tretter was a quarterback in high school and went to Cornell as a tight end before switching to tackle, so he’d never played the interior line until this offseason.
The Packers haven’t drafted a center since 2006, when they took guard-center Jason Spitz in the third round. Their starter this season probably will be Evan Dietrich-Smith, who could win the job for several years with a strong performance this season after taking over for Jeff Saturday late last year. Tretter could be another option, along with Greg Van Roten, another former Ivy League tackle (at Penn) who moved inside in the NFL.
“I think I understand defenses pretty well,” Tretter said of a possible move to center. “I think I’m athletic. When a center can pull, that helps out an offense quite a bit. That’s definitely a possibility, and we’ll see where that goes, but you have to be ready for anything.”
At this weekend’s rookie minicamp, the Packers’ No. 1 offensive line had fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari at left tackle, 2012 practice squad player Andrew Datko at left guard, first-year player Garth Gerhart at center, undrafted rookie Lane Taylor of Oklahoma State at right guard, and Tretter at right tackle.
Gerhart, the brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart, spent most of last season on Cleveland’s practice squad; signed with the Packers’ practice squad for the week of the divisional round of the playoffs; then re-signed with the Packers immediately after the season.